La Negra is a poster girl for modified ladies. She has horns, tattoos, scarification, branding, a split tongue ‚Äď and is sexy as hell. Her journey into modding started at the tender age of 14, when she walked into a tattoo parlour in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, plucked a standard design off the wall and had it etched onto her right shoulder. Fast-forward 16 years and she‚Äôs still exploring the world of body art, pushing boundaries with piercings and becoming an ambassador for freaks worldwide.
The Argentian had a idyllic childhood. Her father, an agricultural scientist, and mother, a science teacher, encouraged her to explore the natural world, so she developed a confident and philosophical outlook on her quest to tweak the body she was born with.
‚ÄúChildhood in the countryside is a wonderful experience, creative and free, and even more so if it‚Äôs stimulated by your family,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúDespite moving to Buenos Aires when I was 12, I‚Äôve always found changes in friends and environment to be great experiences and full of emotion. I was lucky to have a family I could count on, and one that was open, caring and respectful. It‚Äôs helped me to explore myself.‚ÄĚ
After landing a job in a tattoo parlour aged 14, it was hard for La Negra to resist the urge to add to her ink collection. During those early years she concentrated on decorating her arms and legs, but the transformations took a back seat when she hit 16 in favour of studying, living in her own apartment and having a steady relationship. This all changed when ‚Äúthe simple, happy life wasn‚Äôt working anymore‚ÄĚ, and La Negra rediscovered her passion for modification.
‚ÄúFor my 19th birthday I got tattooed again and, when I was 20, I had my face pierced,‚ÄĚ she explains. ‚ÄúAfter that I became interested in other forms of body art. In 2001, I discovered branding and was curious enough to try it out.‚ÄĚ
The evidence of this experimental phase is proudly carved into the top part of La Negra‚Äôs nose, and you can‚Äôt ignore the two daring bulges protruding from her head, which appeared not long after in 2002. And then there‚Äôs the incredible dot-work wave tattoos on her neck by friend Nazareon Tubaro. She describes the experience of getting them as ‚Äúemotional‚ÄĚ and explains, ‚ÄúI‚Äôve lived all my modifications, felt them mentally, aesthetically and physically.‚ÄĚ
Above all, La Negra says her most important body modification was pregnancy ‚Äď and Bizarre wonders if she‚Äôs met with prejudice for being a heavily modified mother. ‚ÄúNot really,‚ÄĚ she says thoughtfully. ‚ÄúMy daughter has attended schools for seven years and it‚Äôs never been a problem. Other parents and teachers seem more interested in evaluating the dedication you have in raising your child. What a woman walking down the street thinks of me, when she sees me with my daughter, doesn‚Äôt matter or affect my life.‚ÄĚ
La Negra also carries out suspensions. She first experimented six years ago out of curiosity and, as with her other modifications, found the experience highly emotional and felt compelled to repeat it. ‚ÄúI started the suspensions because I was fascinated with the idea of taking my feet off the ground and being lifted from my own state. Then I carried on, because in each position I feel a different pressure and there‚Äôs a different aim,‚ÄĚ she explains. ‚ÄúSuspensions, to me, are an act of love to myself.‚ÄĚ
Through contact with like-minded enthusiasts, she took the art to another level by joining two other body performance artists ‚Äď Ego Kornus and Angela Urondo ‚Äď and forming Amor Infame Tormento (Love Infamous Torment). The trio performed in Argentina and Brazil, and their shows ‚Äď in which they mixed suspensions, play spears and body mods ‚Äď were based on Ego‚Äôs poems. During one show in San Pablo, Argentina, La Negra even performed live scarification on her chest. ‚ÄúIt was spontaneous and I hardly felt it until the next day,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúMy second was done by Andre Fernandez from Brazil. It was an enchanting session.‚ÄĚ
La Negra‚Äôs performances attempt to make sense of the relationship between the physical changes in her body and her mental state. She explains, ‚ÄúI‚Äôve carried out different types of performances throughout my life, but in recent years they‚Äôve mainly focused on body art. All my public appearances are one-offs created purely for the occasion. This gives each event a palpable feeling of excitement and spontaneity.‚ÄĚ
Her next production is called ‚ÄėTraccion a Fe‚Äô (Drawn To Faith), and it‚Äôs a multimedia show. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a set-up of video, photos and objects based on what human faith is to me,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs about the power it exerts on everything ‚Äď the capacity to create, feel, live, generate, overcome and visualise through faith in one‚Äôs self, in one‚Äôs surroundings, and in the divine.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs obvious La Negra‚Äôs more than just modded eye candy, and she actively puts back into the industry that has moulded her externally and internally. She has helped a friend to set up Pielmag.com, a site dedicated to tattoos and piercings, and organised the first body art convention in Buenos Aires, which she says has raised the profile of body art in Argentina and beyond.
‚ÄúThere are people here with tattoos and piercings on the street, the subway and in the supermarket ‚Äď but you don‚Äôt see many with implants and scarifications,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúBy raising awareness through performances, exhibitions and conventions we‚Äôve inspired other conventions to spring up in Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay and Chile ‚Äď all of which encourages developments in the latest techniques and body modifications.‚ÄĚ
As for the future, La Negra is philosophical. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm planning on taking out my horns soon,‚ÄĚ she says wistfully. ‚ÄúLife with horns means not using hats, wigs or having a fringe. All the self-exploration, playing and testing up until now means I have arrived at the point where I can start on my performing career properly. But I‚Äôll be working on new modifications as well. The transmutation never ends.‚ÄĚ