Impressions from International Women’s Day “8M” in Buenos Aires
My research on art and activism in Buenos Aires has introduced me to a rich cosmos in terms of the history of art-activist practices in Argentina but also in terms of what is happening in the context of the feminist movement. Making contacts and connections in this part of the world allows me to relate to and understand on a deeper level the discourse on decoloniality and art – which I will write about here another time.
While I am still digesting all the impressions and trying to make sense of them in the context of my reflections on the future of democracy – I am already preparing the next travels – first to the FEINART Workshop in Iceland – and after that I will head to Utrecht for the upcoming secondment at bak – basis voor actuele kunst.
I want to share with you a few impressions from and thoughts on the 8th March, International Women’s Day, that brought 300.000, mostly women, to the streets around the Congreso Nacional in Buenos Aires. It was an exceptional gathering and protest. Two weeks prior to the march I joined an assembly coordinated by Ni Una Menos – the Argentinian feminist collective – where the political demands and the organization of the march were discussed. Although the summer in Buenos Aires brought relief from pandemic restrictions we met outside, and assemblies like this are still attended by fewer people than normal. Nevertheless, the anticipation of taking back the streets after two years of little mobilization created an atmosphere of happiness and excitement. One of the urgent topics was the absolution of Eva Analía “Higui” de Jesús – a lesbian women who was attacked by a group of men six years ago and defended herself – in so doing she killed one of them. After six years of trial process, she was granted absolution a few days after 8th March. A huge success for which the feminist and LGBTIQ+ movement played a crucial role by creating public visibility for Higui and organizing solidarity by communicating consistently that everyone would have defended themselves like Higui. The public pressure created made clear that convicting Higui would be unbearable injustice first because it was self-defense, but also given the many uninvestigated and unpunished femicides.
The multitude of groups that were out on the streets created an overwhelming density and diversity of different visual, musical and performative expressions – wherever I turned I saw another group drumming, dancing, performing, singing, shouting, pasting posters on walls and marching. The absence of the police on this day supported this atmosphere of a collective outburst of joyous fighting for a feminist society. Although the street is the central location for “la lucha” – social media obviously is an equally important arena for creating public visibility. A few years ago #Niunamenos started to strategically use social media to create international awareness for the feminist movement in Argentina and thereby inspired the foundation of #Niunamenos groups in many other countries. The production of images at the march was therefore interesting to observe – you could see that certain images are intentionally staged, and the huge presence of photographers signified the demand for them in the digital space. Observing the production of these images created a certain awareness that these images produce an intensified version of reality, while on the other hand, they are not capable of transmitting the actual physical experience of this happening. In the first photo you see how the graphic art collective “Vivas nos queremos” is pasting posters during the march. We want us alive is a central claim of the feminist movement in reference to the huge number of femicides. On the second you see the group “Las Mariposas – Acción Urbana de Género” that focus on the problem of human trafficking with its principal purpose of sexual abuse. Witnessing the ‘8M’ inspired many questions on the role of art for the feminist movement, but also on how art institutions relate to the movement. But I will share more with you on this topic in another post.