Niña Guerrera is a one-year project that questions certain aspects in the pursuit of social justice.
Initiated by childhood experience, triggered by ideological struggle, and conducted through autoethnographic research, Niña Guerrera consists of readings, interviews, workshops, performances, rug-making and so on. Its core objective is to support the once-lost within the complexity of the world and encourage critical exploration towards seemingly fixed beliefs.
What does "Niña Guerrera" mean?
It means feisty girl in Spanish.
Every time my mother's asked about the meaning of her name, she always responds: niña guerrera, the feisty girl. And she indeed lives up to it. She is ahead of her time: strong, determined, and fearless. Now as her daughter, on the bumpy path of pursuing a brighter tomorrow, I am driven by the weight of her name: to be the new Niña Guerrera.
Femke Reijerman. Eindhoven, the Netherlands. 2021. Niña Guerrera.
Home was under martial law due to the dictatorship. It was an era of mental oppression and forced silence. Despite the pushback from the social and political environment, she decided to study in a small Spanish city 10,000 kilometres away from home. She ended up living there for almost two decades.
That's my mother's story. Her name is Hilda. It means niña guerrera, the feisty one.
I came into the picture later on: born in Taiwan, brought to Spain at 1 year old. I spent most of my childhood surrounded by people who did not look like me. But that caused no problem. I still made friends, attended birthday parties, joined summer camps and so on. It was until I reached my adolescent years when I sensed something was off.
It was a stage of many questions. "Are they treating us differently because we are Asians?" "Why did they yell konichiwa at us?" My mother's answer has always been consistent: If you have enough confidence in yourself, you wouldn’t consider them prejudice and/or discrimination posed on you. And that was a great response for a teenager who was going through the phase of shaping self-esteem and ego. It created a shield around me from the ugly of the world.
Having said that, this thick wall of protection also blinded me from recognising not only prejudice towards me but also discrimination towards others. In short, I failed to acknowledge the reality. Gradually, I entered this stage of resentfulness, discontent, and the worst of all, disbelieving social justice movements as I simply couldn’t see the injustice in the first place.
Eva Lotta Landskron. Eindhoven, the Netherlands. 2021. Performative lecture (graduation presentation).
Upon finalising the project, I tracked back to the source of this research and conducted an interview with my mother. She shared her philosophy and I revealed mine. The video presents some extracts from it.