Las Cantatrices: Ópera con fondo blanco

This series of performances, directed by Nelly Richard, was first exhibited in the installation Sala de espera, which was televised in 1980, during Chile's military dictatorship. In each of the three iterations, Carlos is encased in full body plaster, save an opening that exposes a different part of his body—stomach, legs, breasts. Affixed to his face are hooks that force his mouth open, underscoring and smearing his exaggerated makeup and also the gesture of mouthing along to the operatic music. He sings along to and against the music, imitating the opera singer's emotional performance. The fourth iteration is a recording of Leppe's mother, Catalina Arroyo, who reads a very candid description of Leppe's difficult birth. In the original exhibition, all four videos played simultaneously, thereby creating a multi-frame portrait of a body in torture, held against its will in various vulnerable positions. With the video playing Arroyo's monologue placed in the forefront during the original exhibition, the sum of the videos reveals Leppe's exploration of past and present bodily tensions: the body under extreme duress, the immobilized, grotesque body as a site of desire, and the torturous climate in Chile during Pinochet's dictatorship.