The University of Wisconsin hosted assistant professor in the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University Marcela A. Fuentes Tuesday to discuss artistic expressions of abortion rights activism in Argentina.
The lecture was organized by the Center for Visual Cultures, with the support of the UW’s Anonymous Fund and the Departments of Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, LACIS, and Spanish and Portuguese.
The social movement to legalize abortion on a global scale can be portrayed through metaphorical and artistic means, Fuentes said.
Fuentes discussed the views on abortion rights of pronounced Argentinian feminists and the artwork created in response to the feminist movement by artist Ni Una Menos, another feminist.
The expressive actions of these feminists can be categorized metaphorically into three key categories, each underscoring a different aspect of the social movement — “the Scream,” “the Tide” and “the Spider,” Fuentes said.
Fuentes explained the underlying pain that summarizes “the Scream,” saying a woman in Argentina is murdered every 32 hours by a man in her immediate circle. This man could be her father, brother, cousin, boyfriend, co-worker, boss or another well-known individual.
She called these murders “femicides,” or homicides targeted toward women.
“[Femicides] cut across circle class, ethnicity, age and geographic location,” Fuentes said.
It’s less about who the person was, and more about them being a woman, she added. She also discussed the similar attacks on individuals who belong to the LGBTQ+ community.
Community members have retaliated against the killings by posting in social media with hashtags that translate to “we work for ourselves,” and other women-empowering phrases.
Fuentes then discussed the unifying power of “the Tide.” Using green bandanas, Argentinian feminists artistically express their support for the legalization of abortion by wearing them on themselves and on backpacks. The hope is that using the bandanas will show common solidarity.
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This trend has spread across borders, including in the U.S., where New York City participated in a similar effort to wear green bandanas in a show of support for the Argentinian feminist campaign, Fuentes said.
By showing solidarity, the feminists want to form together to loosen the hold on patriarchal conditions, Fuentes said.
The supporters posed together in one photo, spreading their green bandanas out while a drone captured the imagery from above. In another act of artistic expression, feminists drew a green wave towering over and threatening to take down a government building. It was created to be similar to that of the Great Wave of Kanawaga, an iconic Japanese painting.
Lastly, Fuentes discussed “Operation Spider,” which protested gender-based violence. Artwork related to this project included a display of art in subway lines. People also played music in support of the protest in the subways.
She said a large concept of the feminist movement was the call for women to be seen as women. Whether that was a protest against abortion or gender-based violence, Fuentes said people are fighting for equal rights through artistic expression.
“I see you, and you see me,” Fuentes said. “And together we decide what there is to say as a result.”
March 6, 12:21 PM: This post was updated to credit the organizations who sponsored this event.