Review: Rocio Boliver performs “Balancing of the Edge/Age” at Defibrillator

Rocio Boliver’s performance “Balancing of the Edge/Age” was the last in the Majesty of the Flesh series curated at Defibrillator.  Boliver, also known as La Congeleda de Uva, is a Mexican performance artist, who gained prominence in the body art scene.   Boliver explores themes surrounding beauty, femininity and the aging body in her performance with the help of Begoña Grande, a Spanish artist.

The performance opens with the two women, naked, strutting the stage, covered in photographs of the female body.  Reminiscent of a catwalk, the bodies of the female artists force images of the ideal female body to be seen as that, pure image and imagination.  Hidden under the photographs, the lines of translucent fishing line only become apparent as the artists strip themselves of the photographs.   The placement of the hooks throughout the artists’ bodies took 6 hours to attach before the performance began.

Soon Boliver and Grande begin unwinding the fishing line that hangs from the hooks placed throughout their bodies, and the feeling of danger sinks in.  The artists entangle themselves in a beautifully haunting ballet of flesh.  Attached by way of the fishing lines, the artists, in a seemingly choreographed dance, pull at one another’s eyebrows, faces, breasts, labias, and thighs.  The heat of the gallery, the sound of the artists’ pain and struggle, and the smell of bodily fluids amplify the senses and the anxiety.

Boliver and Grande grasp at the lines connecting them, and pull at each other’s skin, switching places atop a balancing board.  The tension of this flesh discord heightens as the first drops of blood seep from the hooks on Grande breasts.  This is quickly followed by more rivets of blood from both artists.

As the strain of the flesh caught in the fishing lines becomes almost unbearable to watch, a flame is taken to the taut and rigid lines, setting the artists free.  The release is tangible and unmistakable.

After their disentanglement, Boliver and Grande each adorn a mirror around their face and step off stage into the audience.  Staring straight into the faces of audience members, the reflection of their own image around the face of the artists became an intense moment of clarity.  Boliver and Grande then passed them packaged razor blades, and stepped back on stage.

Once on stage, the artists each slice their own hands with a razor blade.  Boliver and Grande smear their blood on to each other’s faces, using it as makeup, highlighting the same irony that began the performance.  A violent, insistent, bodily consuming kiss between Boliver and Grande ends the performance.

“Balancing of the Edge/Age” is a fitting end to the Majesty of Flesh series.  Placing the aged female body on view and distorting our expectations. 


Sorry there are no photographs to accompany this post.  No photographs were permitted during the performance.

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