Embodied at the Shrine of Cultural Disjuncture

  • Luz Calvo


Laura Aguilar’s Three Eagles Flying (1990, silver gelatin print, triptych, 24 × 60 inches) (figure 11.1) depicts the bound body as (dis)juncture: between Mexico and the United States, between subor-dination and desire, between fantasy and geopolitical reality, between artistic production and its reception. Reprinted in Coco Fusco’s English is Broken Here, Deborah Bright’s The Passionate Camera, and Carla Trujillo’s Living Chicana Theory, Aguilar’s image has achieved notoriety, elegantly speaking to the intersection of nation, race, and sexuality.1 My aim in this essay is to begin to unravel the significance of Three Eagles Flying, an image I believe to be both brilliant and disturbing. It is an image that speaks the language of the unconscious—presenting itself at once as dream, as fantasy scenario, and as a series of desires and identifications that follow no politically prescribed direction. It is also an image whose power constantly evades my interpretive ability. Bound by the same flags as the subject of the photo, I find myself constrained by my own resistences: after years of studying this image, I continue to feel unable to “see” its meaning or translate the strong emotional reaction I have to the image into an analysis of its impact. This is an image that thwarts my desire for mastery—an image that eludes, slips, exceeds interpretation. The best I can do is to write a series of fragments that only just begin to approach the image and my relation to it.


Artistic Production Psychic Life Strong Emotional Reaction Prescribe Direction White Mask 
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© Neferti X. M. Tadiar and Angela Y. Davis 2005

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  • Luz Calvo

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