Nao Bustamante | University of Southern California
I first met Mickey Negrón at an Encuentro. It was instant love, recognizing in each other a flexibility of using emotion itself as material. Shortly there after, we found ourselves in a car traveling across the United States from New York to California, along with my doggie, Fufu. We made art along the way, had late night heart-to-heart talks, experienced alien landscapes, kitsch monuments and wild buffalo on the plains. When I had the opportunity to see Mickey perform, I delighted in in their courage and recognized their ability to fall into the abyss of existence while letting us watch. It’s difficult to escape the beauty that is Mickey Negrón.
PonerMickeytarme: ritual de pluma y purificación is an intervention where Mickey enters the crowd of air horns and “Jesus loves you” t-shirts with impeccable hip pads jutting out at each of their powerful and graceful steps. The crowd is a large march, a protest in the capital city of Puerto Rico, San Juan. The people are lively and drumming. Here’s the kicker: the protest is against public schools being or becoming gender-inclusive. Here the evangelical meets the political. Mickey’s walk is proud and upright, as they strut and flounce, creating a rip, simply by showing off their marvelous self. Dressed in a light flesh colored leotard with drawn in pubic hair, patterned nylons, red boots, and some sort of magical box strapped to their chest. Maybe that’s the place where one can deposit their feeling. Some people giggle and wave Mickey away, some look on in a state of disbelief and others attempt to shame, wagging a finger or aggressively praying. When this happens, Mickey stops and looks at the antagonistic protester with compassion and reaches into a bag, pulling out a glob of feathers and showering themselves as the feathers get caught in their hair and flutter off to do Mickey’s work of ablution through the crowd. Another moment Mickey draws down the top of the leotard, they pour honey on themselves, in the bright light of day, then comes the shower of fluffy chicken feathers, unsuspecting audience become irritated, but at times you can see how Mickey’s gesture breaks though the superfluous barrier separating them. The public purification is by Mickey’s own hand, at times acting out the gestures of a chicken. Their purification resembles a self-tar-and-feathering. Performance art can create a sacred public space of “acting out.” A space for others to actively engage projection of their own desires, sins, anger…. Mickey moves through the protest, at times they surrender and soften to anyone who wants to hug it out. But Mickey carves out the space of performance, so much so that they appear collaged into the environment of the protest. Mickey’s figure is an obtrusive contrast, humping the street, letting feathers fly, and flapping as if being taken over by the spirit, a spirit that others seemingly also feel.