Dionis Escorsa


Vera Icon
(by Eulàlia Valldosera)


Your face, Lord I will seek. Do not hide your face from me.
salm 26, 8-9

I felt somebody saving me one day. I was feeling like dying. I was so weak that I couldn’t even lift one arm…and I felt I was dying. I was happy. It was a sense of beatitude, a very good feeling… but then I felt someone was keeping me, was literally lifting me up. And then I knew, I decided …my responsability was …to stay alife, not to allow this…the weakness of my body …and I just kept resisting. This was something on a different…dimension, who came… that was the feeling I had. I’m a healer. I heal myself.

Transcription of the audio of Vera icon, anonymous

The ‘Vera Icon’ (Latin for ‘true images’) are Christian relics that are believed to be true depictions of Jesus, supposedly produced by miraculous means, and are thus not works of art executed by the hand of man. According to Catholic tradition, during the Passion of Christ, a woman took off her veil and used it to wipe the blood and sweat off the face of the Messiah. She had to struggle against fear and violence in order to physically go up to him and touch him, in a loving action that required courage and compassion. The image of the face of Christ was imprinted on the cloth.

Every cloth is a theatre curtain, a necessary boundary that conceals in order to reveal. It is the veil that covers the bride in the marriage ritual and that, when drawn aside, symbolises the breaking of the hymen in the physical union. It is the bandage that covers the wound, protecting life while at the same time separating us from it in all its risks. There are two sides to any cloth: it is both medium and covering. It protects our bodies like a second skin or it blindfolds us; used as a burka, it allows us to look without being seen. It is a medium when, soaked in sweat or excrement, dust or bacteria, it is used to get rid of or erase the undesirable. Stained by the paint of an artist, it disappears beneath images from our dreams and our misery. It is a canvas, a cinema screen, a flag, a sail and a travel rug, a shroud, a Veil of Veronica, a cleaning cloth…

For a long time, we had no image of the AIDS virus.

The hands of an infected man clean and look after an image of Saint Veronica. Like the HIV carrier, she is also a carrier of an imaginary image. We hear his voice recounting the experience of being HIV positive but we do not see his face because he chooses to remain anonymous. He transmits his experience to us, but he does not offer us his image. Many carriers of the virus wear a veil, hide a secret. Likewise, they are obliged to use other types of physical veils to prevent contamination.

Cleaning often entails courage and compassion, as Veronica’s actions did. The performativity of the act of cleaning is socially relegated to the realm of pure privacy, or to the subaltern status of those who work in silence, in full view. By reinstating the ritual aspect of cleaning and care, we resignify the value that we assign to time and its productivity. Cleaning an object can metaphorically connect us to the degrees of dirtiness that we are prepared to accept as part of all that which is alive and constantly changing. It is a propitiatory, healing act, because darkness and dirtiness harbour an undiscovered treasure, a gift, an awareness that tears the veil and takes us into a new dimension of what we had previously considered our reality.


A videoinstallation by Eulàlia Valldosera
Camera, edition: Dionis Escorsa

2014 · 11 min 26 sec