Mi Corazón, an analysis
Why do many consider Pola’s Mi Corazón her most complete work?
I believe this is true not only because of the moment Mexico was living after the 1985 earthquake, the feelings this tragedy triggered in the video artist and her 8 year experience experimenting with video, but as a result of the strength with which she transmits the collapse of the city which is a metaphor of her personal breakdown: Mi Corazón is the video that more spectators remember and feel.
From here on, I quote the article Pola Weiss: del cuerpo visto al ojo amoroso, which is part of the book Museo Vivo, la creatividad femenina that was coordinated by Eli Bartra and which I wrote with Sara Espinosa Islas ¹.
The video´s first shot announces what will become the video artist’s dictum from then on: Mi eye is my heart; a heart that beats and a penetrating music, geometric figures, a bright flow that journeys through a heart and maybe one of her most remembered images: a drop of blood dripping down a woman´s inner leg that flows down onto a white flower.
“This image allows Pola to deal with one of the taboo issues in those days: menstruation. She not only alludes to the physiological process but recovers the notion of virginity wrapped in a corporeal flow: “the pure vs. the impure. This is how Pola portrays her female body through her eye-camera, the same eye that allows her to be her own observer.
"Pola liberates her own body through the glance and invites the spectator to observe it from that distance that Western societies have chosen by favoring vision over all the other senses (Le Breton, 1995, 123) ² . That dancing body seems disassociated from Pola’s eye that represents the camera and feelings: the duality of the soul and the body, inside and outside Weiss, who inspects herself in action."
"If, as Le Breton affirms, the body is the most tangible trace of the subject, that which gives it certainty, for women the body is what marks and defines them. Nevertheless, that definition always comes from outside, from others, whereas Pola attempts to find herself through her own eye."
"That electronically constructed I stretches throughout the screen and the artist’s life, who uses intimate moments to elaborate a sort of personal patch work through visual metaphors: now Pola shows herself in bed, naked and with electrodes; an electrocardiogram graphically describes her presence in the world. A new scene takes us to a close up of Pola with a crystal tear, above which there is an insertion of Gustav Klimt´s painting Maternity."
"In this swollen body, with her face and the image of a fetus in the belly, the video artist replaces the model. The feminine body in the process that seems to define it: human reproduction. Pola is not observing herself any more, she narrates, involves us in the story of the child she lost in Venice. To do so, she uses erratic panning to lead us through the bathroom and the hospital room where she suffered an abortion. This personal experience, as many others, gives coherence to the emotional story to which the artist introduces us. Her experience is unique and unrepeatable, painful and transcendent."
"The following scenes show photographs from different stages of the artist’s life: as a baby, a child, adolescent, youth, adult; they all focused on her eye. The last one connects to a sugar skull whose name is “The fetus” ³ . It has now turned into the sweet, culturally hybrid, death, the final process. In this case the passing of the one who was not a body, the one who disappeared before birth. Pola cannot escape the stigma of the woman-mother body, she stands apart from others who are and consequently the loss of the fetus leads to her breakdown."
“The collapse begins with a swinging lamp and the artist’s video boxes shaking on a shelf. A tower of cards with Pola’s face on them tumbles down; it is the earthquake that makes the buildings, houses and people cave in. As shown in the screen, Pola is now the guest at the misfortune rendezvous that befell Mexico."
"Next come intertwined images of the collapse, the rescuers and Pola the dancer. Her silhouette dances nimbly but painfully in front of the building’s ruins; she crouches down as if she were another person waiting to be rescued from the wreckage. Pola the little girl cries. The memories begin, the pieces of recollections that make up the life of the video artist. The image sequences start moving faster, flowers are crushed by stone: a painting by Klimt on death appears and the dancer again. Pola smacks a racquet furiously, venting her anger on the death of the other."
"Now everything is death, the fetus, the victims of the earthquake, because bodies end in death and its representation takes over the screen: the skeleton with a scythe and the cemetery, the dwelling of dead bodies. Death according to Dali makes its entrance and again Pola with the racket of her anger; the skeleton and death turn up again, transforming into a funeral cortège at the cemetery while she dances."
"She looks at some documents and memories come up. This is followed by the image of a plot of land she owned at the Ajusco, from where she could look down at this crumbled city. The metaphor indicates the construction after the destruction; she builds regardless of the collapse, recovers her life and returns to her place as the non-mother, to become the one in the photograph in her studio, the one in the fairy tale who dances at Merlin’s palace. Her heart beats, Pola has not died, she looks at us and she feels us through that sequined heart on blue cellophane that thumps rhythmically.”
Other authors have also referred to Mi Corazón, among them Salvador Mendiola, Hortensia Moreno, Gloria and Adela Hernández, who comment the following about this work: “Nothing in Mi Corazón follows the institutional model of cinematic representation; none of it has anything to do with Hollywood or with Televisa or with anything that resembles them. Everything is transgression and escape, lively rebellion and spirited criticism of the establishment from her perspective, that of the electric Witch who sees nothing according to the established pattern and wants nothing to do with it…" ⁴
It is precisely the way in which she assumes her feminine role and the strength of her images as well as the metaphors that refer to the event and to her life, that easily touch the spectator’s sensations and break the patterns of the established in the visual narrative.
It must also be underlined that Mi Corazón was initially planned as an action to be presented at Cankarjev Dom, Yugoslavia, but it may be that the tragedy of the earthquake made Pola rethink the original piece whose production was originally estimated in 12 hours. This can be corroborated in Pola Weiss’ notebook on July 1985.
See video Mi Corazón
² Le Breton, David. (1995). Antropología del cuerpo y la modernidad. Nueva Visión, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
³ Sugar skulls are traditionally made in Mexico for the Day of the Dead and on the forehead they usually have written the name of the person they represent.
⁴ Mendiola, Salvador; Moreno, Hortensia et al. (1999). El ritual amoroso de la bruja eléctrica (1947-1990). Visited on May, 2012 at the Museo de las mujeres website: www.museodemujeres.com
Pola Weiss’ personal notebook, July 11, 1985.