BUENOS AIRES — While women in Argentina have increasingly made themselves heard, the violence and prejudice against them continues. Most recently, the case of Lucía (a pseudonym), an 11-year-old girl in Tucuman, raped by her grandmother’s partner, and forced by a slow judicial process to bear a child, has shocked Argentina and the world. In Argentina, the case has revived tensions over the abortion law, which last year was discussed and approved by Congress, only to then be voted off by the Senate.
Nosotras Proponemos (nP), a group of women working in the arts, has at least achieved initial important changes in the art world, including creating awareness in museums through the “rescuing other narratives” initiative and reaching gender parity in the grand national awards. This year, the group is not only focused on the inequality of women in the arts, but is calling for an end to violence against women, urging for the right to abort and end femicides. Since the beginning of 2019, 43 women have been murdered in the country.
Today, on International Women’s Day, the artists of Nosotras Proponemos have taken to the streets, bringing with them a long, green sculptural braid, with three women heading it. The separate tails intertwine, as do the voices of all the women out on the streets. The 20-meter-long object moves like a snake through the crowd and everyone carries it together. The green symbolizes the pro-choice campaign.
The braid also playfully alludes to a girl’s hairdo. The streets are full of girls with signs saying they don’t want to feel frightened to walk home at night, wondering whether they’ll arrive safely. They don’t want to be one of the women dying every 34 hours. That’s what today’s fight is about.
“Last year we focused upon ourselves, women in the arts, but this year we joined International Women’s Day and decided to use our artistic skills to highlight the important feminist causes of today,” explained nP member Maria Rosa Andreotti. Based on the work of artist Rosana Schoijett, also a member of nP, the artists of the group repainted her photographed silhouettes of women artists and made them into banners, hanging them throughout the city of Buenos Aires — from Constitucion to Palermo — urging women to take the streets today and strike.
“[T]his series, Impressions, which I started in 2010, has been seen within the art context quite a bit already, so to take it to public space and have it reproduced through painting, is just amazing!” said Schoijett to Hyperallergic as she carried the tail of the braid in the streets. “This opens the work to a whole new level, which inspires me to continue creating the silhouettes of the female artists that make up nP.”
Last night the women artists of nP projected the silhouettes on many of the large, empty walls the Argentine capital holds, joined by phrases such as, “if our lives mean so little, try to produce without us” or “if we strike, the world stops.” There were also a few lines that hinted toward inequality in the arts, like, “What happens when your male artistic referent manifests gender violence?”
In the past year, nP has successfully collaborated with museums, and for today’s action, nP worked with the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires (MALBA), where they are displaying the names of 3,000 women artists at the museum’s entrance. Andreotti also said that the museum will be “handing out our 37-point proposal to change the inequality in the art world.”
Nosotras Proponemos has been counting the number of works made by women artists in museums’ permanent collections, and while the MALBA did aim for parity in its last presentation of its permanent collection, curated by Agustin Perez Rubio and Andrea Giunta, the recent re-installation seems to have let this aim slide again.
“We still have a long way to go,” said artist Zoe di Rienzo. “I, for instance, would really like to work on nP as a federal entity. Women artists in all the provinces of the country are experiencing the same difficulties as we do here in the city. It isn’t just Buenos Aires.”
Andreotti sees a lot of potential in the future and is considering how to divide attention between the broader feminist cause and equality within the arts. “Something for our next meeting!” she said. In the meantime, she and her colleagues of nP continue to snake around the masses, singing joyfully, hoping for “the patriarchy to go down and Latin America to be feminist.”