Interview with the Artist

Photo of Anaida Hernandez

Lehman College Art Gallery Interview with Anaida Hernandez
Hasta que la muerte nos separe (Til Death Do Us Part)


Susan Hoeltzel: People were trying to get it changed?

Anaida HernĚndez: That's how I came up with the idea to present it in the Capitol of Puerto Rico--in a public space--in the house where the laws are made. This piece was first presented in the Capitol building in San Juan.

Susan Hoeltzel: So was it shown at the same time as that debate?

Anaida HernĚndez: It was a little after the whole debate. It took me about a year and a half to two years to complete the piece. But the issue was still there. The piece was shown in Puerto Rico exactly the same week that Lorena Bobbit was acquitted. And I had been working on this for two years before that happened. So the issue was very much in the news that week. Thousands of people saw the piece. It has the names and dates of birth and death of 100 women killed in Puerto Rico between 1990 to 1993. And to get to see the police records on the issue was another problem.

Susan Hoeltzel: So you got these names and dates directly from the police records?

Anaida HernĚndez: The research was impossible for me to do it by myself because the police did not allow me to see those documents. It was interesting because all the groups--organizations of women in Puerto Rico--tried to get hold of that information and they never had the chance to see the numbers it had on domestic violence accusations or incidents. So I worked with a journalist--Carmen Enid Acevedo from El Nuevo Dia, a San Juan newspaper. She was assigned to the police. Through her I was able to look at the information.

It was very common to find that the place of death was the homeI still remember when this work was shown--every feminist group in Puerto Rico started calling, asking me how I was able to get all that data, because it was never given to them even when they tried to get it from the police. The information I had received had the names, the dates of death and the age of the women killed.

It had other information that I didn't use at the time, like the weapons that were used, the number of complaints before the death. It was very common to find that the place of death was the home. It was also very common to see, I would say, a third of the men committed suicide. Maybe more.

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