Spain’s Most Prominent Performance Artist, Angélica Liddell, Visits UMass Amherst for Special Performance on April 24

Angélica Liddell
Angélica Liddell

AMHERST, Mass. – Angélica Liddell, Spain’s most prominent performance artist, will present poems from her collection Los Deseos en Amherst / Desires in Amherst, inspired by the work of Emily Dickinson, on Tuesday, April 24 at 4:30 p.m. in S240 Integrative Learning Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

During her U.S. visit, she will also perform in New Jersey and Washington D.C. She is making a special trip to Amherst to perform the work in the town where Dickinson lived.

Liddell says that Los Deseos en Amherst (Desires in Amherst) was written in a moment of personal crisis. She asked herself “What poems would I have written in a situation of seclusion like Emily’s?” Liddell turned to Dickinson’s poetry, which kept her going and inspired her own writing.

During her visit, Liddell will perform a selection of these poems in Spanish with English supertitles. A group of eight translators worked on a collaborative translation of the text. Among them are UMass Amherst students, community members and professors Regina Galasso (languages, literatures and cultures—Spanish and Portuguese) and Harley Erdman (theater). Professor David Rodríguez-Solás (languages, literatures and cultures—Spanish and Portuguese) organized Liddell’s visit to UMass. 

Liddell is an actor, director, performance artist, playwright and poet. In 1993, she founded her own theater company, Atra Bilis, and has since directed more than 20 of her own works. Liddell won the 2012 National Literature Award with her play La Casa de la Fuerza (House of Strength), which she presented at the Theater Festival in Avignon. In 2013, she was awarded the Silver Lyon at the Venice Bienale for “recognizing her ability to turn poetry into a text that shakes the world.”

The poetry of Emily Dickinson has been a long-term inspiration for Liddell’s work. In 2015, she created the sound installation Emily, co-produced by LABoral Center of Art and Industrial Creation (Gijón, Spain) and La Bâtie-Festival (Geneva, Switzerland). In Emily she aimed at “giving a voice to the chaos that built a poetics: the buzz of bees, the chants of Massachusetts Native Americans, the noise and the fury of Shakespeare.” The play Liddell will stage at Montclair State University before her visit to Amherst uses as its title Dickinson’s line, This Brief Tragedy of Flesh. Liddell explains that in this play “Emily challenges rational world with her intelligence and seclusion, with mystery, breaking the rules of communication, unconcerned by mundane chronology.” 

Liddell’s visit is possible by the support of the following sponsors: Embassy of Spain; College of Humanities and Fine Arts; department of languages, literatures, and cultures, Spanish and Portuguese program, Modern European studies, Translation Center, UMass Arts Council.