On February 11 of 2010 in Ciudad Juarez, Luz Maria Dávila faced Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón, she said, “I bet that if it had been one of your children, you would have gotten under the stones and would have looked for the murderer.” Luz María Dávila was pointing fingers, she blamed Mexico´s President for the death of her son, who died along with twelve other teens by the hands of the army.
One way or another, Sara Uribe (Querétaro, México, 1978) follows Luz María’s lead and decides to address the notion of violence in México on Antígona González a book that transcends the political and social based upon a solid exercise of appropriation, intervention and rewriting.
Her first name is Antígona her last name is González
In the original work by Sophocles, Antigone rebels against Creon, the King of Thebes, who prohibits the funeral rites for the body of Polyneices, Antigone’s brother. The myth of Antigone has been visited in the past, but Uribe’s attempt goes far beyond a simple adaptation. Uribe adapts Antigone´s tragedy to the context of the narco war in Tamaulipas, México.
This is the story of a woman whose brother has disappeared. This is the story of a woman who now searches for his body; this is the story of Sandra Muñoz and how, because of this, has been forced to become this “:I didn’t want to be an Antigone,” she explains, “but it happened to me” (11). This is the story of a woman who,
attempts to tell the story of her younger brother’s disappearance. This case wasn’t on the news. I never merited a hearing. It´s just another man who left his house and headed to the border, never to be seen again. Another man who bought a ticket and boarded a bus. Another man who waved goodbye to his children from the window… (21)
Yes, Antígona González is the story of a woman who searches her brother, but it is also the story of an author who documents the situation of the desaparecidos in México; it is also the story of an author who dialogues with authors who have used the image of Antigone to do the same. Antigona González becomes some sort of annotated bibliography and so we learn about Antígona Furiosa by Griselda Gambaro, Antígona Vélez by Leopoldo Marechal, La tumba de Antígona by María Zambrano, and Antigone’s Claim by Judith Butler. The sum of these references allows the reader to understand violence in a larger scope:
: The argentinian autor Girselda Gambaro uses the
figure of Antigone to critique the large number of people
disappeared during the military dictatorship in her
country . (31)
: Additionally, we are aware of the existence of a Cuban
Antigone written in 1968 by the playwrigth José Triana.
Bosch also mentions this text. It was not possible for us to
Access the manuscript, which has not been published
and perhaps never will be. (97)
Antígona challenges us all.
Sara Uribe wrote Antígona González as a request from director and actress Sandra Muñoz; she wanted a theatrical monologue based on three premises: revisiting Sophocles’ Antigone, adapting it to create communicating vessels with the history of Isabel Miranda de Wallace, and address the desaparecidos in México. “But I am not a playwright,” explains Sara Uribe, “and what came out was that.”
That, became Antígona González, one of the most important books written in Mexico in the last five years. Published in the US by Les Figues Press and translated by John Pluecker, this book challenges both readers, author, translator because to tell the story of Sandra and her missing brother Tadeo, it is necessary to comprehend voices, statistics, and anecdotes that become a frightening echo of the narco war in México:
Amealco, Querétaro. February 15.
The bodies of two women and one man, all executed
at close range, were located near the border between
Guanajuato and Querétaro. Tacked to a nearby wall a
message was found written on a piece of
As a poet, Sara Uribe bends genres, disarms the reader, twists discourse to elude a defense mechanism against this reality. It is as if, to speak of this, the author needed all the possible literary forms to “construct with words a place for memory, because naming the voids is the only way to make them visible” (Uribe).
As a translator, John Pluecker finds a way to recreate the voices behind this overwhelming testimony of mourn, he does not merely translate Uribe´s book, he translates a wide range of codes, the rhetoric of violence. In Antígona González, both author and translator perform the role of the greek chorus in ancient tragedy: walk the audience into the understanding of what one cannot understand because, how can one understand this?
By This I mean:
The task of recognizing a body. The one we touch to
know we are real. The one that sheltered us with an
embrace. The one we traverse with our fingers or our
At the end, just like Luz Máría Dávila did, both character and author refuse to leave the page without pointing fingers, without stating why they are here, “I am Sandra Muñoz, but I am also Sara Uribe and we want to name the voices behind the stories that take place here” (167).
Antígona González is a book that needs to be read and acknowledged, because it is about recognizing violence, it is about sheltering pain, it is about traversing what lies beyond the unanswered questions, and aren’t we all always left without answers in this country? I know I am, I know there are no answers to why a wall is coming to the borderland where I live; I know there is a violence threatening us all, because us all. I know we will all be looking for a body soon, very soon.