Mexican Multidisciplinary Artist and Neuroscientist Arantxa Araujo to Stage Performance Piece

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Tanya Domi, tdomi@gc.cuny.edu, 212-817-7283

Mexican Multidisciplinary Artist and Neuroscientist Arantxa Araujo to Stage Performance Piece
Exploring the Physical Ravages Experienced By Low-Wage, Immigrant Kitchen Workers

The performance will be presented as a part of the Graduate Center’s annual Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages Conference


NEW YORK, April 24, 2017 – As part of its ongoing work to inform dialogue about immigration issues and realize more effective, humane immigration policies, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York will host a one-day performance of Mexican multidisciplinary artist and neuroscientist Arantxa Araujo’s “Linton: 15lbs/3hrs per week/$31.50.” The three-hour piece will feature Araujo shredding horseradish — a spicy, aromatic root that is highly irritating to the eyes and sinus membranes — nonstop as a demonstration of the grueling, repetitive motions and poor work environments experienced by many immigrant workers.

The piece’s name was inspired by the Latino restaurant workers who helped Araujo prepare for her performance. It highlights the average workload, time spent on this single task, and compensation for the work, which is often performed in poorly ventilated areas in order to keep the fumes from seeping into the dining area and disturbing customers.

"People often don’t notice or try to look away from bad working conditions affecting 'second class' individuals," said Araujo. “With this piece, I’m saying: you have to be aware. I am attempting to make the invisible visible. I want people to know the labor-intensive process that the sauce they eat on their oysters entails. My performance is replicating what one worker does over a week’s time. The audience will be able to see how this difficult physical activity harms my body. Shredding horseradish is almost like putting pepper spray in your eyes. When I was practicing, my face became swollen, and the moment we put vinegar on the shredded roots, it created an explosion of gases that made me almost vomit.”

 “Linton: 15lbs/3hrs per week/$31.50” will be performed on April 27, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at the Graduate Center’s 365 5th Avenue location in Manhattan as part of the Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages program’s 22nd annual Graduate Student Conference. This year’s conference, titled “Over the Wall,” explores ways to tear down walls that impede connections between people of different backgrounds.

“Each year, our grad students put together this conference to explore various cultural issues affecting Latin America, Spain, and the Latino communities within the U.S.,” said José del Valle, professor in the Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages program at the Graduate Center. “Given all the talk of immigration and building walls — topics of great concern to Latino communities and others — the students felt it would be appropriate to explore how we can counter efforts to put up cultural walls and instead foster greater understanding between countries as well as the academic world and general public.”

“Araujo’s performance piece is free and open to the public, and it’s one of several activities that we hope will help us engage the general public in conversations about cultural visibility and the false perceptions that unfairly demonize and penalize some groups,” said Ana Sanchez Acevedo, one of the conference’s organizers and a Ph.D. student in the Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages program.

According to research from the Latino Data Project of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies, Latinos have the second-highest poverty rate among all ethnic groups in New York City and the United States, and they experienced the largest drop in median household incomes in recent years. Latino workers were also more likely than other groups to hold food-prep jobs — the lowest paid positions in the restaurant workforce, according to research.

Araujo, who is Mexican and currently in the United States on a J-1 visa, said her work endeavors to highlight both the positive contributions and harsh work conditions of hidden immigrant laborers such as the Latino workers in kitchens throughout New York City and across the country.

About the Graduate Center
The Graduate Center (GC) is the principal doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York (CUNY). Positioned at the center of the largest urban public university in America, the GC fosters pioneering research and scholarship in the arts and sciences, and trains graduate students for careers in universities and the private, nonprofit, and government sectors. Unlike typical research-intensive universities, the Graduate Center focus exclusively on graduate education, with over 35 doctoral and master’s programs, and 20 research centers, institutes and initiatives.  Every year, GC students teach over 200,000 CUNY undergraduates, with another 150,000 undergraduates taught by GC alumni in virtually every college and university across the City.  Through its public programs, the Graduate Center enhances the City’s intellectual and cultural life. Visit www.gc.cuny.edu to learn more.

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Submitted on: APR 24, 2017

Category: Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies | Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages | Press Room