I am Así

Katie Swietlik

2013 - Ongoing

Oaxaca, Mexico

If I remember correctly, I was about ten years old when I proudly announced to my friends that I was Mexican. This wasn’t a white lie I hoped no one would catch; my young sunburnt self with my head of stark white hair genuinely believed I had some Mexican blood. There was some logic behind my nonsense. My paternal grandparents had lived in Mexico City for a few years, long before I was born, and we had a number of Mexican artisan pieces in our home from their time there. During the holiday season I sometimes helped our neighbors make tamales, and as a baby my first taste of solid food had been a tortilla. Mexican, right?

Now, over 15 years later, I have been making a life in Mexico for almost three years, have been in love with a Mexican for two of those years, and I now know better than ever that I am not Mexican. But, neither am I strictly North-American.

Being a woman in either of these cultures, or in some soft-focus fusion of them both, one is met with specific societal expectations of who we should be. I find myself wanting to be contrary to these feminine ideals, coming from both sides of the border, but at the same time wanting to play that perfect woman.

Walking past a café window a few weeks ago I was quite affected by an everyday scene that would have gone unnoticed by any other pair of eyes. A middle-aged, presumably married, couple sat in silence, a cup of coffee in front of each of them. The man stared off into the distance while the woman quietly stirred sugar into his cup. My immediate reaction was that a grown man should be able to sweeten his own damn coffee. Then, just as quickly, my frustration moved from the man to myself as I reminded myself that the scene was much less likely a show of extreme machismo, but rather a simple act of care and tenderness that the woman naturally showed her partner.

As I become conscious of the two cultures in which I live, their similarities and their differences, I am more mindful of my ability to pick and choose the elements of each which I would like to embrace in the construction of who I am, the construction of my own ideal woman. Making this work has been a way for me to gain better understanding of who exactly this “ideal woman” is and to accept the contradictions, cultural or otherwise, which lie within her.

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  • Self-portrait with fuzzy braids - Autorretrato con trenzas peludas

  • Something from a past life - Algo de una vida pasada

  • An attempt to be hot blooded - Quiero ser sangre caliente

  • Self-portrait trying to own my sexuality - Autorretrato siendo dueña de mi sexualidad

  • Kissing like my parents did - Besando como mis papás

  • What can happen in two months time - Lo que puede pasar en dos meses

  • Güera - Blonde

  • Hasta el culo

  • Getting even (collaboration with Alfredo Farfán) - Emparejando (colaboración con Alfredo Farfán)

  • Foreigner's skin - Piel de a

  • How to fill holes - Cómo llenar huecos

  • I smell like me - Huelo a mí

  • An infinite cycle - Un ciclo infinito

  • Marked - Con la X en la frente

  • Alegría

  • Self-portrait letting my emotions get the best o

  • Maternal instinct /// Before they died /// Before I killed them - Instinto maternal /// Antes que se murieron /// Antes que les maté

  • Divine visit on a forgotten tortilla - Visita divina, tortilla olvidada