Unit / y
In the video Unit/y we see Amapola Prada in the center of the screen wearing an oversized, worn out sweatshirt, socks and flip-flops—standing motionless on a dimly lit street in her native Lima, Peru. As the video progresses, people, stray dogs, and cars pass by unbeknown to her presence, inescapably fulfilling their roles in the everyday.
The title of the work gives us a clue. In Spanish, ‘unidad’ can be used to refer to both, a single unit or to the term ‘unity’—the coming together of many. This play on words signals one of the artist’s key concerns: the tension between the individual and the collective, and how our bodies mediate between these contrasting forces. In the case of unit/y, Prada withholds movement to enunciate her presence as an individual in the face of an unfolding cityscape that is perpetually in motion.
Unit/y, alongside the works Movement, and Power, forms part of the video triptych Revolution, where Prada investigates ideas commonly associated with the concept of ‘revolution.’ Contrasting the connotations these words carry with archetypal and symbolic situations, Prada proposes a revolution that departs from the body, advocating for “the acceptance of ourselves and our circumstances past and present, without pretenses or glories.”
As the daughter of an actor, Amapola Prada recalls frequently attending the theater as a child and noticing that she never saw herself (her body or reality) represented. On the same vein, during her studies in the field of Social Psychology at university, she noticed the lack of inclusion of non-Western subjectivities—mestizos, Indigenous, migrants among them—and their bodies across all the texts and theories she encountered.
Correspondingly, Prada turned to the languages of performance, theater, and video—combining them with her training in Psychology—to investigate, departing from the body, the plethora of meaning that simple movements and actions can contain. Across her performance and video work, Prada proposes that our bodies have been conditioned and carry imprints of discourses that determine race, social class and gender, and predetermine us as individuals. Her actions are attempts to strip our bodies of these preconditions or at least position her own expression as an opposing force to the history of oppression and repression which defines her body and her experience of everyday life in Lima, Peru.