Las Sabinas

We are two artists, Sabina Gámez and Sabina Rak, currently based in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal working under the name Las Sabinas


You can watch Sabina Gámez talk about the project as part of the colloquium Thinking Allowed: Social Justice, Migration, and the Environment: 

Las Sabinas Artist Statement and the project Sabinar

"Once upon a time, there were the Sabina women,
whose fight turned into stories,
which turned into myths,
which turned into movies,
which turned into artworks,
which turned into performances,
which turned into a chance meeting,
which led to a re-invasion of history.
A reason to join forces, bodies, art practices.”

Our collaboration developed through a chance meeting, and a common obsession with the theme of the Rape of the Sabine Women throughout art history. The exploration of this theme has led us in various directions, passing from feminist art to ecological considerations, to questions of what it means to have and create a community, all related to our explorations of materials that range from the virtual realm to the raw matter of the earth.

We each, individually, had been obsessed with Jacques-Louis David’s painting El rapto de las Sabinas. It was not until we got together and evaluated all the different art expressions of the myth that we realized this is the only version where the Sabinas (at least some of them) are fighting, taking control, and taking a stand with their bodies in the battle.

Conquest, abduction, and colonization... are violent terms that are tied to Sabina’s history. But we are not making art about what happened in the 10th century BC; we are taking on a myth that has persisted in art and is embodying history in the now. By putting ourselves into the painting, we are trying to read between the perpetuated images. 

Our project has different shades of humour and layers, many attempts at understanding one’s place. We intervene in the myth, decontextualizing and recontextualizing it to fit our own bodies. The ensuing pieces mix and collage meanings and overlap questions in a physical and historical space.

We took the painting to be our theatre background. And so our collaboration became a play: play came before meaning, as the modus operandi of the conversation between two bodies, as the parameters of the exchanges.

In play, one also strengthens social bonds. Working as Las Sabinas has made us feel stronger together. In our collaboration, we each planted ideas to play with, but we grew them and nourished them together. There were laughs, moments of doubt, trust, challenges, juggling words, searching dictionaries for translations and synonyms, leaning into similarities and differences, and having fun in thinking together.

Maybe all this is about the action of Sabinar: finding one’s people across frontiers.

Las Sabinas, Esperar / Repotting / Signifier, 2023
Las Sabinas, Esperar / Repotting / Signifier, 2023 
Still image of video work, 00.05.05 min 
Collaging, mixing Sabinas, coexisting, crossing generations. This video It’s about constrained movement, repetition, heritage, and translation. A still image, a series of movements doomed to be a loop.
Las Sabinas, Desesperar / Invading / Re-planter,2023 
Las Sabinas, Desesperar / Invading / Re-planter,2023 
Still image of video work, 00.09.41 
Holding energy, playing with fire, glorifying, destroying and birthing at once. This piece touches on several ecological issues surrounding fire, the destruction of nature, the human vs. its actions. We talk here about
ecofeminism, the current climate change crisis, ancient practices of “witches,” and the overall idea of knowledge transmission through the work of women.
Las Sabinas, Invadir / Las Sabinas, 2023 
Las Sabinas, Invadir / Las Sabinas, 2023 
Digital collage, digital (70?) prints 11 x 17 inches, audio piece 00.17.19 
Las Sabinas is another way of positioning ourselves in this story, going back to the myth, thinking about who is writing the history, having a conversation with the imagery, and playing with different ways of portraying
and playing with representation and repetition.
Las Sabinas, Sabinar / Repotting / Attendre, 2023 
Las Sabinas, Sabinar / Repotting / Attendre, 2023 
Cardstock, envelopes, typesetting, letterpress prints, collage, handwriting, poems (in Spanish, English and French), artist statement. A correspondence between the two Sabinas: writing, merging images, words,
meaning, and languages. This piece stands as the synthesis of the concept of the entire undertaking. The poems included are reflections on what a Sabina is, across time, space, art and community.
Las Sabinas, Replantar / Meaning / Envahir, 2023 
Las Sabinas, Replantar / Meaning / Envahir, 2023 
Latex gloves, typesetting, letterpress printing on gloves, polyester stuffing, audio piece 00.12.09  
Mixing soil, water, and words, using our hands to shape the language, to shape the sound. The audio piece is a mix of sounds of clay working. In this work we letterpress printed our signature typesets on the gloves we used to print the typeset seen on the cards. We reference feminist identities through manual labour, the transmission of knowledge (printed and manual knowledge)
Las Sabinas, Significar / Longing / Désespérer, 2023 
Las Sabinas, Significar / Longing / Désespérer, 2023 
Clay, ink word transfers, glaze 
Playing with traces of humans, museum displays, and archeological archives. Mixing the present, rearranging the words, and making a new language with our hands. This piece is a mix of recorded conversations between us, the vocabulary we built together across our four languages, to find common ground in speaking of the same issues across nationalities, generations, and history.