“Tlakentli”: the scales of colonialism

«Tlakentli»: les squames du colonialisme

Photo: Maxime Côté
“Tlakentli” made telescope deftly autobiographical elements — descent and course of migration — and reminders to the colonial history of the Americas.

Leticia Vera and Carlos Rivera are both indigenous artists from Mexico whose approach involves a re-appropriation of the rites and symbols of the cultures that have been confiscated. Under the direction of Yves Sioui Durand, the duo wears in the scene in a fresco in the timeline circular, including the heart based on the metaphor of a shedding of identity. In a simple narrative scope by the theatricality of the dance and sequences of physical theatre, Tlakentli fact telescope deftly autobiographical elements — descent and course of migration — and reminders to the colonial history of the Americas.

On stage, the incense burns and scents the room amount in the bleachers. The piece opens with a serpentine dance in the ripple of the arm, on a background of a projection of a relief showing the feathered serpent, a deity dear to the Aztecs. Dating back to the origins primal of the human, in reptations through the tray, Leticia Vera and Carlos Rivera in a leotard and beige embody a couple of reptiles are fun to send a ball. A musician, on the courtyard side, accompanied with percussion, a frame overlapping the breath of the wind.

A lightweight comic is instilled through the row of tables, the gestures-like physical theatre, dragging the load of the piece of lightness to the severity in a snap of the fingers. The texts are delivered in a maze of languages where there is a mixture of Spanish, French, English and nahuatl (language of the indigenous peoples of Mexico).

The costumes are central in the play — Tlakentli, word nahuatl, pointing to the clothes. The garment operates here as a tool of cross-dressing identity, first used in a playful way — that let you replay the stereotypes of mexican folklore and ballroom dances way in the 1950s — to become the bearer of oppression, because doing away with all indigenous signs of the body through the compulsory evangelization.

Migration to the North

The route of immigration of the two artists are part of a broader story while they draw a line between the violence against indigenous peoples and their stories are personal, intimate and subsidiaries. Documents from the archives — portrait of a family frozen and video evidence of the aboriginal presence in Mexico — live with what is happening in the scene.

“I flee from the lies of a racist country, I fled the lies of my own family that denies its origins,” drops with severity Leticia Vera dealing with the public. In the North, violence is embodied in the robbery and the denaturation of the land.

Reflection on violence

The body will relinquish their dander colonial to adopt their traditional clothes. Embodying two characters from their mythologies common, to close the loop, the artists are again switching their universe to a return to the origins, conjurant violence and sacrifice. An end that speaks to this piece that offers a perspective on the realities indigenous to South America are similar to those from here — and which questioned the colonial status of the borders, while highlighting the beauty of the symbols and customs of a singular culture.


A creation of Leticia Vera, Carlos Rivera and Yves Sioui Durand (Les Productions Onkinnok). Until march 16, at the Cinquième Salle of Place des Arts.