Introduction: Ice Queen by Ana Teresa Fernandez
I'm originally from Mexico but moved to California at the age of 10. From this time on I spent my summers going back and forth traveling from Mexico and the States across the border. Going back and forth I was able to observe similarities and differences in cultural, social and educational structures for women and men. Little did I know that this thematic of gender politics across the border would be a subject that I would dive into heavily with artwork and politics.
I moved to San Francisco on a full ride scholarship to The San Francisco Art Institute , where my work transformed and developed beyond oil on canvas to any material needed to craft the idea into life. For several years I began exploring issues of gender politics and narratives that society forms around expectations and norms for men and women. I had been wanting to create a work that not only spoke about and for women, but also to re-tell mythical and folkloric tales I had grown up with, that I could see built unrealistic and negative expectations for young girls.
Galeria de la Raza is one of the oldest latino non-profit and alternative gallery in the Bay Area. They approached me to create a project that involved my thematic and that would be presented as a series of video installations. It was for the Creative Work Fund grant. I had never ever done video work up to that point, so they were taking an enormous leap of faith on a very prestigious and economically generous grant, applying with a non-vide artist, me. I told them I wanted to develop and re-create Mexican and American folk tales and make videos that would present a more contemporary, empowering, and realistic version for little girls. Such as, turning Cinderella on its head by creating a "glass" ice slippers and wearing them until they melted. How would I do this? I had no idea. They loved the idea, and so did the Creative Work Fund Committee. We got the grant and I began the process of trying to figure all this out.
La Llorona, the video series were presented at Galeria de la Raza, but they also travelled quite a bit in Tijuana, Mexico and South Africa as part of exhibitions. In the Bay Area the videos were presented at Intersection for the Arts and they were part of the Zero1 Biennial in San Jose. They were also publicly projected outside of the Arizona State University Museum. This work helped raise awareness about a social situation and most importantly it helped humanize a reality that is sometimes hard to want to address.
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Step 1: Ice Queen
I needed to make an ice shoe. How on earth would I do that? Well I remembered my friend and colleague whom I had gone to grad school with, Jeremiah Jenkins who had done an ice gun. So i approached him. He said we needed to make a mold, and that I would need to buy 3 sizes larger stilettos. I wear size 9.5. My feet are already big foot size. So I thought to go to a trans- store. Make sure that your old-school parents are in town when you embark in this adventure. Because it is one fun adventure to go to the store on Polk street with your mom and dad to buy size 12 stilettos.
Step 2: Ice Queen
The second step was to create a mold of the shoe with Jeremiah. This was a 4 month process of lots of trial and errors. Trying to figure out the best solution to keep the heel from coming apart. But after many trial runs we were successful. The ice stilettos were created.
Step 3: Ice Queen
The whole idea behind the ice stiletto was to literally melt away the notion of having to be rescued by prince charming. After all, women these days, no matter what culture or class, fight really hard to find and sculpt their identity, their beliefs and chase after their goals. So that involved me wearing and melting the shoe away.
Step 4: Ice Queen
I went to West Oakland, one of the roughest and most dangerous neighborhoods in the Bay Area, and decided to stand on a street grate and melt this ideology away, creating a new path.
Step 5: Ecdisis
Little did I know I would be approached by 3 pimps in very large vehicles with tinted windows, yelling out from their window "Are those F' Ice shoes!!!!???" They did, I told them the story and they said "you go girl!" I felt really safe getting their blessing and approval. But I also felt my feet were going to never function again. I didn't realize that the whole performance would take 45 minutes. Which is close to getting frost bite. My feet survived and the video was created.
Step 6: Siren's Song
Siren's Song was the second video created for this project. To re-create the Mexican fable of la Llorona, the weeping woman that cries for eternity and scares little children because she supposedly drowned her children after being abandoned by her husband. I wanted to portray a woman that was forever swimming, strong and making the beautiful sounds of your breath underneath the water.
Step 7: Ecdisis
In order to do this , I jumped into a pool at night dressed in stilettos and a black cocktail dress. The dress and stilettos stayed in because I removed those plastic straps that were made on bras in the early 2000s. These bra straps were made out of clear plastic so it would appear as if you didn't have a bra. But I cut one apart and sewed it unto my dress and shoes. The dress stayed on as well as the shoes, while I swam.
Step 8: Siren's Song
Siren's Song was not only to address this old wive's tale, but it was also to push back against the term "Wet Back" which was being used more and more around 2007. In order to make a more dynamic underwater video and not have it be static. I tied a go-pro to the end of a cleaning pool stick. I had my sister run back and forth following me from the side of the pool. Make sure you get your sister a bit drunk before hand at your mom's b-day party. (I filmed it the evening of my mom's birthday) This way there is a sort of fun looseness in the video, and it makes for a funner experience in general.
Step 9: Siren's Song
This video project was being shown at Galeria de la Raza which had amazing store front windows on 24th and Bryant, the heart of the Mission. I wanted to transform the windows into an aquarium for this woman to swim across the space for eternity. We didn't have screens so I went to IKEA to see if I could find some sort of window screens that would hold the image. And I found some that fit the windows perfectly. I cut some apart but covered the entire front in screens and projected with 4 projectors unto these screens. And this is how you put together a video project never having worked with video before.