Regina José Galindo won the Golden Lion award for best young artist at the 2005 Venice Biennale. In 2007 she sold the trophy to Spanish artist, Santiago Sierra. In 2011, she asked a local sculptor to cast an exact replica of it in bronze, plated in Guatemalan gold.
Galindo is an artist without filter. Her art no limits and, with that, no limitations. As a performance artist, her body is her primary medium. Over the years, she has injected herself with valium, been wrapped in a garbage bag and thrown in a dump, whipped herself, had her hymen sewn together – all performed in a subtle, powerful symbolism that relates back to poverty, corruption, injustice, rights.
Guatemala and its painful realities often take center place in her work. The most famous is Who can erase the traces? (2003) in which she walked to the steps of the Constitutional Court Building in Guatemala City, her feet soaked in blood. “As Guatemalans we know how to decipher any image of pain,” the artist once said, “because we have all seen it up close.” Gallindo has an intense and inimitable ability to create memory where memories have been forgotten, rendering history visible through performed documents.
Her recent works are wrapped in morbidity: Laying, eyes open, in a coffin; naked, painted in charcoal, curled up on the pavement as a stone; set on a cold metal slab ready for the morgue. Decay of the living. The works speak to the integrity of Galindo’s art – an art infused with her own rage and internal conflict, visualized in painful and even gruesome imagery, yet imbued with a sensation of stillness, introspection and meditation.
As an artist, Gallindo does not claim to make art for anyone other than herself. Indeed, her greatest power is acknowledging this truth and yet still being able to speak for those who cannot.