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Purga: A Performance

By Dominga Valles Vargas and the Shipibo Conibo Center 

featuring huiroro pei toro ininti

"In the period of decolonization,

the colonized masses mock at these very values,

insult them and vomit them up."


Frantz Fanon




        There is much in the world that makes one want to throw up. Dirty wars, dirty spirits, toxic chemicals, toxic money, poisoned water, polluted air, decimated rain forests, the accumulation of pain, injustice… All the toxicity out there also finds its way inside, where the contradictions and emotions get located in the guts. We suggest, therefore, that now is the time to vomit. We must vomit together. We must vomit not as a hidden disorder or a form of self-harm, but rather as a collective ritual. To vomit is to purge, to cleanse, to reach down to an empty state on the other side of desire, in the negation of consumption and ingestion and possession. In this spirit of house cleaning or more broadly speaking of environmental cleaning, we offer the possibility of participating in a Purga.

        As the audience watched, twenty participants chose to take center stage to initiate a cleansing (at the Tonala theater in Mexico City). The Shipibo curandera Dominga Valles Vargas, along with her apprentice Inocencia Izquierdo Valles, served them the plant-based medicinal drink made from huiroro pei toro ininti. This purge is chased down with water and care and silence. Within 15 minutes, the purga participants begin to throw up, one after another, into the buckets provided. In the meantime, someone is reading out a Purga Manifesto, taking the journey through the range of toxicities, from chemicals to capital, that are making this place sick.

        No photography was permitted. Only sound was recorded.

Purga ManifestoShipibo Conibo Center

        Purga is a deep cleanse practice, a political, environmental, spiritual purge. In the initiation to ceremonies in the Peruvian Amazon, Shipibo healers provide a plant-based medicinal drink to provoke purging, to cleanse the entire physical system before embarking on the long journey into the night of ayahuasca.

        Dominga Valles Vargas is a Shipibo medicine-woman in the Peruvian Amazon, purveyor of the knowledge and the plant medicine. The Shipibo Conibo Center is a broad experiment in art, culture, politics and the afterlife. Huiroro pei toro ininti also known as ocimum americanum L. is a plant known for its medicinal proprieties in a number of applications. It’s distinguished for its sweet aromatic smell and does not cause side-effects.

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