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‘Medusas Project’ focuses spotlight on Mexico’s most contaminated waterway

“Medusa” is an eco-artistic/feminist project developed in the Jalisco town of Juanacatlán that aims to highlight the pollution problems affecting the Santiago River, which flows through this small municipality located on the periphery of the Guadalajara metropolitan area.

For almost three years, a group of dedicated women and girls, led by Angelica Barba, an artist and mother from Juanacatlán, have been collecting human hair. These dreadlocks are now being filled into “stockings” that will become the tentacles of large “medusas” (jellyfish) to be placed strategically in the river, doubling up as both an artistic endeavor and a measure to soak up contaminants.

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The “medusa” analogy also involves another dimension. Interestingly, Medusa, one of the most monstrous female figures in mythology who had live snakes in place of hair and turned people who looked at her into stone, has become a contemporary icon representing feminine power. Mainly through the internet, Medusa has become a symbol of feminine rage for women fighting back against male oppression: a woman who had her bodily autonomy taken from her, was cursed, forced to live a life she did not choose, but yet was still immensely powerful. 

At a recent presentation of the initiative, Barba said more than a ton of hair to make the tentacles has been donated by around 40 stylists working in Juanacatlán and neighboring El Salto.

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