Rodrigo Azaola

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Phantom Pain



Paper, iron gall ink, Aspergillus fungi. Dimensions variable.

Phantom Pain is a time-based organic/biological performance piece based on various readings and manuals for patients who have experienced the loss of one or more limbs as a result of accidents or medical procedures. As a result, I wrote a poem that was later translated into Sirionó, an endangered language from the Bolivian forest with less than a thousand speakers.
The poem was written on highly acidified paper and sprinkled with fragments of Aspergillus fungus. The acidity and the action of Aspergillus rendered the calligraphy unreadable after a few days, and within a fortnight the paper disintegrated.

Its disappearance coincided with the time frame (every two weeks) in which it is estimated one language out of the seven thousand languages spoken on Earth disappears.

Phantom Pain was developed in collaboration with conservators of the National School of Conservation, Restoration and Museography ENCRyM (MX), and the University of Lyon Linguistics Department (FR).

This work was exhibited at: 9th SIART International Art Biennale, La Paz (2016); ISEA, Durban, South Africa (2018).

Download publication (English/Spanish)

Installation view. 9th SIART International Art Biennale, La Paz.