introduced by janel pineda

Nadie is a multidisciplinary artist from Soyapango, El Salvador whose creative range spans poetry, performance art, collage, and curation. Nadie’s work makes use of these various mediums to tackle questions of identity, class, gender, sexuality, and nation in such ways that challenge the very existence of a status quo. In particular, Nadie’s art draws upon direct observations of daily life to unpack and disrupt norms in Salvadoran society. Through this, Nadie’s work aims to bring complexity to a country and culture that have widely been defined by gangs and violence. Their very name, Nadie, which means “Nobody,” was chosen as a way to address their own identity without the pressures of external categorizations. Of this name, Nadie says, “I see it as a logical process to accept myself as Nadie: a choice that is far more than a strategic creative move or a topic of interest; rather, it is a philosophy of life.” Nadie also creates art under the name NadiA, their drag persona and the feminine form of Nadie.

With Elena Salamanca, Nadie founded Fiesta Ecléctica de las Artes (FEA) in 2012, a multidisciplinary art festival invested in showcasing a unique and diverse range of artistry in El Salvador. Nadie is also an organizer for ADAPTE, an art festival that brings large-scale art installations to public spaces, notably in San Salvador. In 2016, Nadie was awarded the prestigious Hocus Pocus prize from Museo de Arte de El Salvador. Their art has been displayed both across El Salvador and internationally at El Museo del Barrio in New York, Instituto de Visión in Bogotá, and Cantón Exposición in Guatemala City. Additionally, Nadie has been featured in and curated exhibitions for Museo de Arte de El Salvador, La Casa Tomada, and Centro Cultural de España in El Salvador, among others.

Nadie’s poetry has appeared in various literary anthologies, including 1.000 millones from Editorial Municipal de Rosario, Argentina, and Rasa de Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, in Mexico City. Nadie’s first poetry collection, from which the following selection of poems is drawn, Aun los espacios vacíos tienen aire, was published by Centro Cultural de España in El Salvador in 2009.

Nadie’s poetry is driven by vivid and inviting imagery, as with the personifying depiction of night as feminine in Night is a Pot of Black Clay, in which Nadie writes: “With high heels and tatty pearl necklaces,/ she is a novice tightrope walker/ on an invisible line in the sky.” We meet the mundane in new ways in these poems, as when Nadie likens “puddles of piss” to “a fountain of golden water” that will, as I’ve Seen on the Sidewalk reminds us, endure as a stain on the sidewalk for decades.

Ethical questions also sit at the heart of Nadie’s poetry, evident in pieces like The Sidewalk is a Myth, in which the speaker asks “To the men who pass me by every day/ if you could feel my pain in your chest,/ would you reach inside to tear it out?/ Would you find a dollar in your heart?” This plea is met with with the description of the national monument: “Frozen in time,/ the heroes of our nation/ proudly pose, eternally/ camouflaged in bird shit” -- the juxtaposition between these two images beginning a dialogue on power and inequality within the poem. A similar political urgency arises in  the water—the sound—the air, which tells the story of a man who “imagines the southern border ends in sand/ that the border is fluid and detains nothing,/ that the border dissolves behind him with every step.” Nadie’s work ultimately calls upon its audiences to think beyond the confines of identity, nation-state, and normative expectations.

Nadie is also featured in this issue in dialogue with Loma (Christopher Soto) in “Mascara/Massacre: Salvadoran Queerness within and Beyond its Borders.”