Within the tradition of feminist performance, in A mi manera Sábada presents an action using her own body in order to openly criticise the ways in which women are forced to maintain a mandatorily thin canonical body. With high doses of humour and the sound of Frank Sinatra’s song My way being hummed, we watch the artist’s belly in a close-up shot. On it are written the words “Dieta” (Diet), and she will massage it for the length of the song, purposefully looking for the visual modulation of the flesh.
This very simple piece is extraordinarily effective, since at the same time that it perfectly expresses, in an intimate and humorous way, the difficulty of accepting one’s own body suffered by all women, it also ironically comments on certain feminist art practices. Sábada specifically targets those essentialist performances, in which the artists used their bodies as artistic material, and so imbued some parts of their anatomy with a certain aura.
The performance is focused on the artist’s belly, on the swinging of her flesh to the humming song. The scene is thus stripped of the elitism that similar body performances have acquired, such as the glorification of the body (Carolee Schneeman), of sacrifice (Ana Mendieta, Gina Pane) or the most recent sophistication (Vanessa Beecroft, Pipilotti Rist). Within this context, Sábada’s piece is a breath of fresh air that nonetheless continues to examine the everyday rituals of self-punishment involved in dieting and the terrible physical and psychological consequences that it has for women.
Sábada is one of the most outstanding artists of the generation of Spanish women artists, who, in the 1990s, and still with scarce technical resources, start using video as a weapon to dismantle gender stereotypes from a feminist perspective.