The Body of Exile

4 min read by Natali Herrera-Pacheco. Published in Essays, Stories.
Still a body but not mine. Kalamazoo, Michigan. Nikon D5500.

Note: NSFW images follow.

The body of exile is a personal exploration that begins with an assertion that is followed by a question. If I am still because I am here, despite having left my land without my family in exile, then who am I and what is left once I am transplanted in another country, in another culture, with another language as unknown as the country that hosts me now.

Asphyxia, Appleton. Wisconsin. Nikon D7200.

I have understood that exile is a word, not an experience. The experience of the exiled is never partial and is capable of overpowering any meaning, of exhausting all language.

Handcuffed. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Nikon D7200.
I will never go back. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Nikon D5500.

By nullifying the referentiality that allows interaction with other people -the solitude/punishment of the exiled- and that also enables the social construction of the self, the exiled is lost and the possibility of telling her own story, for the other and for herself, is destroyed.

The body in parts. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Nikon D7200.
There are just two eyes in the shade. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Nikon D5500.
Asilo en Brazos Valley: to Michael H. Miranda. Appleton, Wisconsin. Nikon D7200.
negative/positive. Appleton, Wisconsin. Nikon D5100.

The photos of The body of exile serve as a mirror for a person who has lost everything, starting with her identity, who only has one body and it is precisely to that body that she can go in search for answers: it is me, I am woman, the negative that produces the image, the other for them, myself.

Looking for answers. Appleton, Wisconsin. Nikon D7200.
I am not an American woman. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Nikon D5100.