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Celdas (Prison Cells)

Through a diasporic, semi-autobiographical lens and from the subtext of U.S. policy in central America, "Celdas", seeks to address the experience of fear, displacement and isolation Hondurans experience­­­­­ due to the unspeakable violence that has taken over most of the region. Current inhumane anti-immigrant policies and political rhetoric aiming to dehumanize central Americans in the United States, contribute to the perpetuation of the trauma on vulnerable immigrant communities and asylum seekers at the U.S. border.­­­­­­­­­­­


The research-based tableaux, which I construct and document throughout the U.S, with an image as the final form, are “counter-archives”(1) to direct representations of violence in the media. The nomadic process of this work helps me to more effectively convey the psychological trauma.

An important aspect of the work is the tension between cultural assimilation and the persistence of cultural identity and memory. “The presence of specific objects such as American pop music CD’s, flowers or candles, solicit an intimacy with the most private aspects of the lived experience"(1). By bringing natural elements such as leaves, sand or found materials from the area into the make-shift structures, alluding to working/poor class experiences, I recall the individual’s capacity of make-do.


Through magical realism, the feminine vernacular spaces blur the line between fiction and reality and introduce a dimension of pathos as they recall the need for sanctuary while alluding to coping mechanisms. To further the sense of poignancy, the play-scapes or scenes are informed by actual violent crimes, memorializing and humanizing some of the victims caught up in the endless cycle. The convergence of the public, domestic space and crime-site elements suggest the inevitability of violence's reach. The juxtaposition of Catholic and Maya iconography evokes the legacy of Spanish colonialism and reminds us that the history of violence in Central America has deep historic roots that predate the Conquest.





1. Excerpt from Counter-Archives to the narco-City Catalogue, The Other Side of Fear: Alma Leiva's Prison Cells,Tatiana Reinoza, 2015.

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