Atlacualo: The Ceasing of Water is a multidisciplinary performance work that I created with Violeta Luna. It has been presented in two places: Eastside Arts Alliance in Oakland, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
I have the desire to work on a project for a long period of time — to go deeper into the work (hopefully to make it better), to craft its nuances, and to be more satisfied with the end product. Sometimes I get frustrated that in our art culture here, we spend so much time and money to put a show in a theater for three performances, struggling to bring in an audience, and that’s it: that is often the life of a performance project in the Bay Area. My experience in Central and South America and some parts of Europe is that a performance runs for at least a month in a theater. This time allows the artists to anchor the work, to own it. I hope to have this experience with Atlacualo.
Last summer, I was lucky to be invited to be a part of The Gold Fish, a theater work produced by CounterPULSE and the Water Underground fellows. I learned so much about water issues in the Bay Area and about the greatest water disasters in the history of this country such as the Cuyahoga River fires, Hurricane Katrina, the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, the Elwha Dam, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and now fracking. The list is endless. Sometimes I feel we Americans do not appreciate or deeply care about water because we see it as a commodity. It is so easy to access it: just turn the faucet on and here it comes, like magic. We rarely consider where it came from and how it got here. I come from a place (Mexico City) where water is a big problem. We have dismissed the value of water to a shattering magnitude. In the past we honored it with such devotion and respect, constructing buildings and invoking deities to honor it. Now that connection is completely banished from our memory; now the population of Mexico drinks more Coca Cola than water. The bottled water company that provides safe water for all Mexicans is completely controlled by the massive Coca Cola Corporation. To me, that is one of the greatest environmental disasters of our times.
We are coming back to CounterPULSE, the place Atlacualo was created. We want to continue working on the dramaturgy, the space, and the concepts. We want Atlacualo to have a long life. We want to be able to move it around: to take it to small communities, to talk about the issues. That is what I dream of for Atlacualo: to take it to the people. Join us at CounterPULSE September 14-16 to experience the re-cycling of Atlacualo, to celebrate Mexican Independence Day, and to strive for clean, safe water for all.
José Navarrete is a Movement and Performance Artist living in the Great San Francisco Bay Area
Photo: José Navarrete & Violeta Luna by Jason Lew