A brief genealogy of 35F

A brief genealogy of 35F

Salinas workshop participants (photo Violeta Luna)

Salinas workshop participants (photo Zen Cohen)

Perhaps it is right to begin our blog by positing ourselves this way: Like with much in our contemporary lives, The 35th Floor / Another Stor(e)y Above and Beyond Her Fall (35F) is largely informed by our necessity to face the violence that surrounds our bodies, and that other one in need of so much healing, the earthbody of which we are an extension. Perhaps the brutal notion that we are indeed separate, is the father of all violence.

The journey of birthing 35F, has been long, full of surprising detours but always with Violeta holding fast to her inspirational compass for direction. As in all performance projects, it has involved scores of people who will be unseen to most audience members, but whose actions are the stones that built the road, and the signposts for our journey.  We want to share them with you, not as individuals (save for for one of them), but as clusters of affiliation.

The immediate “we” is the performance’s creative team, of course, and CounterPulse’s (CP) staff in “move mode,” literally and metaphorically running restlessly between sites, and between a number of other spaces: that of the harsh reality of the lives of many Tenderloin residents in streets and sidewalks, and on the inside of 80 Turk, that of the endless creative possibilities of the socially engaged imagination that we all want the new performance space to be (how important it is that we don’t see ourselves as separate from each other…).

There are the “funder communities” and central to this last stage of the work from our end is NALAC (National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures).

Violeta working on ideas for 35F in her backyard: the “nido de papel” / “paper nest" (photo Roberto Varea)

Violeta working on ideas for 35F in her backyard: the “nido de papel” / “paper nest” (photo Zen Cohen)

There are also two meaningful communities that were critical to the creative growth of 35F: the piece saw its first incarnation as a work-in-progress in 2014 not too far from 80 Turk in KUNST-STOFF arts as part of the 5th annual FRESH Festival. It then went through a very meaningful and more recent stage in Salinas, where Violeta worked with local Latinx community members and artists asking together some of the questions at the heart of the piece, in a setting where land and people keep giving while they are both also abused to a painful and toxic extreme.


And there is, of course, Ana Mendieta’s life and work. While 35F asks questions “that resonate at the intersection of corporality, gender and power…” and is not an homage, Mendieta is central to its inspiration. In fact, sharing life and work with Violeta for more than a decade now, I have seen Mendieta as one of the main guiding stars in her creative journey. I feel as if Violeta has called on Ana for support and guidance in one way or another on most of her projects, and that perhaps now that both of them share the condition of migrants to the US, 35F allows for that relationship to become more apparent and dialogical.

Mendieta’s life ended as she plummeted (was pushed…?) from the 34th floor apartment where she lived in NYC… but in one way or another, we are all marked by healing and by hurt –the scars are there to remind us of both. We want to build something, grounded in that memory, so our imagination can take flight and help us see what can take shape after the violence.

And we are inspired to imagine Ana, falling like a ripe fruit to the earth she worked so much with, full of seeds where infinite universes can take the shape, and color, and flavor of that all too early harvest…

Seeds that are bones and memory, and death and birth, and still life, and the infinite possibility of transfor/motion.

– Roberto Varea / Dramaturg

Get tickets for 35th Floor: Another Stor(e)y Above and Beyond Her Fall here >>

[Cover photo by Zen Cohen]

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