Julia Pastrana’s Long Journey Home
Julia Pastrana (1834–1860) was a talented Indigenous Mexican opera singer who performed across the US and Europe. She was born with hypertrichosis terminalis and hyperplasia gingival: long, dark hair covered her body. Expressions like ‘Ape Woman’ were used to incite audiences to her performances; after her death, she was embalmed and exhibited for another hundred years before disappearing from public view. From 2003 to 2013, Laura Anderson Barbata pursued the arduous task of bringing Pastrana home to Sinaloa for a dignified burial. In performances, zines, videos and a book, Anderson Barbata sheds light on how the systems that justified Julia Pastrana’s exploitation still operate today.
born in Mexico, is a transdisciplinary artist who has initiated long-term projects in the Amazon, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Norway, and the US. Her work has been presented in museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museo de Arte Moderno, and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary.