Regina Gutierrez Badillo

"Cochineal:A red/pink dye consisting of the dried bodies of female cochineal insects"

Section MS2, Kelly Spanou

Keywords: objects, feminist methodologies, materials, decolonising knowledge, body, photography, documentation, moving image

Thousands of years ago in Mexico, they discovered that pinching an insect found on cacti, yielded a red stain on fingers, fabric and especially on textiles.

Today, Mexican women are in charge of a labor-intense dying and hand-woven process. This ritual has become an integral part of family and community life. Children grow up with their mothers weaving, it’s a deeply rooted act in their community. Mothers, aunts, sisters, nieces and cousins came together to make this a family endeavour, making it its first source of income.

It is difficult for women to gain equal respect and recognition, the work is hard, and for many decades there has been pressure to abandon it. Instead, weaving had the biggest potential reward for their labor, this has encouraged women to support their families and become a power figure for their communities.

The final object, a cochineal textile, is a mediation of the process that each of these women has to perform in their daily lives. Reenacting the process step by step with the elements and materials used by the communities, I wove an object that tells a story and gives voice to these women.