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  • Chicago | Phnom Penh | Osaka

Palimpsest for Generation 1.5

Performance Installation / Durational / 2010

Conceived, Written and Performed by Anida Yoeu Ali
Scribe performed by Alycia Scott
Costume by Mac Horn
Documentation by Masahiro Sugano

Performance and Installation of 15 feet of hair, my daughter’s old cloth diapers silkscreened with time, pieces of sarongs from my travels in Southeast Asia, ink, my body and a wooden stool.

Inspired by a scene in Maxine Hong Kingston’s memoir The Woman Warrior, my performance includes inscriptions written onto my back along with the gesture of washing them away. Embodying the archetype of the universal mother/woman warrior figure who nurtures despite witnessing violence and atrocities, I sit exposed and faceless. In this performance, my body is transformed into a palimpsest where histories are inscribed, layering one moment over another. Referencing the potency of historical memory, no moment once inscribed is ever quite erasable. In the performance, I sit covered under a cascading head of hair in which only my back is exposed. Text pulled from my family’s memories and histories related to Cambodia are inscribed in ink onto my back. As a result of the act, ink and water drip onto my back and stain the dress. When the gestures end and the body leaves the installation, detached roots, a disembodied dress, and faint traces of a performed history remain. The work examines the cultural and emotional resonance of place and memory in relationship to personal histories of violence.