Susan Hoeltzel: You created illlustrations for "Contigo Debajo", in collaboration with Ana Lydia Vega. How did the project begin?
Anaida HernĚndez: This book almost always has accompanied "Hasta que la muerte nos separe." Ana Lydia and I got together and decided to create a book. Ana Lydia Vega is one of the most important women writers in Puerto Rico right now. She wrote three stories and I did five etchings for it. It's called "Contigo Debajo" (With You Underneath) which is a very common expression. When someone tells you to "go to hell," the response is "with you underneath."
We discussed the topic of the work and then she wrote the stories and I started doing the images. Sometimes we made word games. We worked on the issues separately and when we got together it turned out that most of the images we used were the same which was very interesting. It's a handmade artists' book in an edition of one hundred. They were done in Venezuela in Jorge Martinez's workshop.
Susan Hoeltzel: What are the stories about?
Anaida HernĚndez: The stories are about the power of struggle between couples but in a more humorous way. Ana Lydia really has a sense of humor in her writing that is very particular to the Caribbean. A sort of a playful side.
One of the very short stories is of a couple on their tenth anniversary and they're bored with their sexual life. He proposes to have an experiment, to invite a third person into it. She doesn't want to and he insists. In the end the two women get together. Another one is about a woman who feels someone watching her in the bath and I had one image with a third eye, watching the woman.
Susan Hoeltzel: "Crucigrama", the crossword puzzle, is another work in which words are a major element.
Anaida HernĚndez: "Crucigrama" is the first work I made based on a game. I showed it for the first time in the Cayman Islands. I was playing with words even before my other pieces. I started working on a game of words. It has 420 pieces, 5 inches by 5 inches each piece. Woodcut. The issue I'm working on here is domestic violence. Since "Hasta que la muerte nos separe" is very heavy installation, almost 1,000 pounds, and very difficult to move around, I decided to create a lighter installation. "Crucigrama" is 18 pounds and fits into a box 35 inches by 35 inches and when displayed is 8 feet by 8 feet.
Susan Hoeltzel: Alot of your new works use games as a metaphor and have to do with gambling, chance, and luck.
Anaida HernĚndez: Chance, yes.
Susan Hoeltzel: This is how life is?
Anaida HernĚndez: Yes. And everyone plays. Consciously or unconsciously, people are playing all of the time.