Reverse the Curse

A performance art event for the Rio Grande by artist Paula Castillo

Over the last 150 years, the Rio Grande, a colonized migrant traveling between three US states and two nations, has suffered tremendously from climate change and its causes: the fall-out of centuries of non-sustainable land-use practices. These practices then forced mechanistic applications on the Rio Grande in the early to mid-twentieth century to purge the river of its supposed natural wastefulness and excessive movements. Most folks do not realize that every drop of water in the river is owned by a procession of governing bodies even before it falls as rain or snow from the sky. Imagine that the true original cause of the river's plight was a mal de ojo curse incited by the American myth of boundless opportunity. The river's natural good fortune as a precious life source provoked a mal de ojo attack by those who wanted what it had.

New Mexico artist Paula Castillo, who resides in Belén, New Mexico, along the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy corridor, invites people from Taos to Juarez to engage in a performance art piece to help the Rio Grande. Communities are invited to come out to their local river bridges to perform a curandera-derived remedio and common mal de ojo reversal for the Rio Grande: spitting at the victim to help negate envy, the fundamental cause of the evil eye. This remedio will reveal a grassroots desire for participatory guardianship to this vital oasis that has made these communities possible and also provides, as allegory, a grassroots tithing back to the river. Castillo is honored to partner on these events with Audubon Southwest, who, in 2018, initiated the first-ever partnership between a non-governmental organization, Audubon, and municipalities for restoring flows on the Rio Grande in New Mexico.

Please join us for the next series of performances on November 12, 2022, in Los Lunas, Isleta, and Belén, NM, to help reverse the curse on the Rio Grande. Join us to give back to the river and share your memories of the Rio Grande with the Manitos Community Memory Project. For more information, contact Paula Castillo at (505) 660-8072 or and Suzy Santaella, Director of Development for Audubon Southwest at (505)231-1823; or for details.

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