exuberance of radical women

Unlike colonization, the coloniality of gender is still with us; it is what lies at the intersection of gender and class and race as central constructs of the capitalist world system of power.
   – María Lugones

Art history is built up by many artists “we deem worthy” alias the “canon”. As one might expect, a whopping share is made up by white European or North American male artists. Although many institutions are realizing this is not the way to go, and trying to be more inclusive, the Latin American, Latina, and Chicana female artistic legacy has been tremendously neglected in the Global North.

As Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, one of the curators has stated, has said, this practice of excluding these female artists from exhibitions, research, and collections, although they have participated in shaping 20th-century art, needs to be addressed. This is one of the many reasons why Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985, currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum, is so significant. 

The objective was to foster a broad and inclusive dialogue between Latin American and Latina artists in the context of art history, and contemporary art. It’s meant as a historical recuperation of Latin American, Latina, and Chicana women artists whose legacy has been neglected over the years.

As the title shows, the works on display are made between 1960-1985, a key period in the Americas. At a point that I thought could be the beginning of the exhibition, there was an overview of political historical events of the countries the artists come from. Per country, it starts with the date female voting rights were introduced in that country. It followed up by dates of overthrown governments by the support of the USA, raging dictators, mass disappearances, but also facts about birth control rights, demonstrations for gender equality etc. It sets the tone what you’re in for in the exhibit.

Although the exhibition is divided into themes (The Self-Portrait, Body Landscape, Performing the Body, Mapping the Body, Resistance & Fear, The Power of Words, Feminisms, Social Places, The Erotic), all had to do with politics on a macro or micro level (“The personal is political”). Some of the artists were living under dictatorships (such as in i.g. Argentina, Brazil and Chile), had to create their work in secret, or had to flee the country. For example, Graciela Carnevale’s Lock-up Action, in which she invited people into an empty gallery, locked them inside and left. Somebody passing by rescued them by breaking the window. For the artist, it was a metaphor for the non-existing political freedom and political resistance. Other artists reflect female or racial oppression and discrimination such as Teresa Burga and Victoria Santa Cruz.

Although the exhibition seems like a feminist show, Brooklyn Museum curator Catherine Morris said that “Some of these women didn’t even consider themselves feminists. The women who were organizing against patriarchal conditions were not necessarily embracing what was sometimes seen as ‘an American export of feminism’. The artists at the time didn’t always think that it always applied to them.”

Even though they didn’t all perceive themselves as feminists, all artists in the exhibition were groundbreaking as curator Carmen Hermo has said: “Many of the artists documented or confronted human rights abuses; the violent conditions of so many realities of these countries. These women were using powerful words and phrases in their art in a time when they were surveilled and censored by the government.”

So what to expect? Lots of spectacular photography and video art, some sculptural installations, some paintings, and to get to know a lot of artists you didn’t know before. And the exhibition marks a long overdue first step in being inserted in the art historical canon.

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 is on view until July 22, 2018. For more information click here

 

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 15.01.24.png
Graciela Carnevale – Acción del encierro (Lock-up action), 1968. Photograph: Collection of Graciela Carnevale/Archivo Graciela Carnevale.
Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Lygia Clark – Memória do corpo, 1984
Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Victoria Santa Cruz, Me gritaron negra (They shouted black at me), 1978.

 

Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Marisol, Self-Portrait, 1961-1962.
Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Rosa Navarro, Nacer y morir de una rosa (Birth and death of a rose), 1982. 
Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Installation shot with the works of Moónica Mayer
Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Victoria Cabezas, Sin título (Untitled), 1973
30E6CC21-1C20-4228-884E-AE2E45D6EBC3
Gloria Camiruaga, Popsicles, 1984
Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Margot Römer, Aparato reproductor de la mujer (Woman’s reproductive system), 1972
Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Sara Modiano, Untitled, 1981
Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Catalina Parra, Diario de vida (Diary of life), 1977
Processed with VSCO with a9 preset
Regina Silveira, A Arte de Desenha, 1980
Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Amelia Toledo, Sorriso do menina (Girl’s smile), 1976
Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Liliana Maresca, Sin título (Untitled), 1983

 

Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Marta Minujín, Colchón (Mattress), 1964-1985
Q&Art_questionsandart_Brooklyn_Museum_Radical_Women
Installation shot

One thought on “exuberance of radical women

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s