Snapshots of racism in Latin America
A conversation between Fabiola Heredia, Juliana Farías and Carol Alves
Fabiola Heredia, Director of the Museum of Anthropology of the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba talks to Juliana Farías, a Researcher at the Universidad Estatal de Campinas and Carol Alves, a Researcher at the Fundación Getúlio Vargas, about the different ways in which racism manifests itself in Latin America beginning with an examination of the works La conquista de América (The Conquest of America, 2019) by Washington Cucurto and Éramos as cinzas e agora somos o fogo (We Were Ashes and Now We’re Fire, 2018) by Maxwell Alexandre. They emphasize the contextual nature of racism and examine how different currents in social history such as colonialism and dictatorship led to discriminatory practices becoming ingrained in contemporary society. They also emphasize the role of women’s movements in Latin America in raising awareness of the consequences of these forms of violence.
Argentinians against discrimination
A conversation between Fabiola Heredia and Shila Vilker
Fabiola Heredia, Director of the Museum of Anthropology at the Universidad de Córdoba, joins Shila Vilker, Director of TrespuntoZero
to go over the stand out data turned up by the survey ‘Perspectives on discrimination. Opinions, attitudes and evaluations of Argentinians
regarding discrimination, xenophobia and classism’ commissioned by the Museo Moderno as part of its Am I Racist? programme.
Today, alongside the call to raise awareness about caring for life in the context of the
COVID-19 pandemic, there are constant manifestations of violence against individuals
belonging to historically demoted communities. With urgent pleas being made from
various parts of the globe, it is crucial to ask ourselves how racism and xenophobia
inform and shape us, and particularly the specific forms they take in the Argentine
context. How do the many forms of racism operate among and within us here and
What happens when we enunciate race? There have been numerous theoretical
attempts to define it in terms of multiculturalism and diversity. But these concepts
conceal the way the various markers of social difference operate in the processes that
make racism invisible. Is it possible to build identities and identifications outside social
markers which we are quick to make essentialising by using biologicist or culturalist
arguments? What does it mean in contemporary societies to be indigenous or white or
black or a woman or trans? How to recognise ourselves without simplifying the
complexity of what we are?
There are several groups of artists and intellectuals that position themselves by
highlighting the hierarchical value chains associated with identities. They describe and
expose behaviours, gestures and practices associated with them. We would therefore
call on you to share your thoughts and works on the forms of racism’s social production
with the Museo Moderno.
Just as racism in our context is cloaked, silenced and reshaped to carry on operating in
other ways, the same is true of certain works in which, though not addressed explicitly,
exclusion processes based on corporealities and phenotypes are also foregrounded.
This is because, while racism is associated with the contempt motivated by ethnic
origins, in this part of the world it is interwoven and expressed in other forms of social
differentiation, such as gender, class or religious affiliation.
We are therefore proposing aesthetic and political devices as triggers to ask ourselves
the question, ‘Am I racist?’
The contents of this Modern Museum's program were produced in collaboration with
Fabiola Heredia, Director of the Museum of Anthropology of the National University
Washington Cucurto, La conquista de América, 2019
Acrílico sobre papel montado en lino, 183 x 233 cm
Fotografía de Gustavo Lowry. Gentileza de Galería Sendrós, Buenos Aires.
Cucurto nació en Quilmes en 1972. Es poeta y editor de Eloísa cartonera. Publicó más de cincuenta libros
entre narrativa, poesía y poesía visual. Entre ellos se destaca Cosa de negros donde relata una historia
que describe la violencia machista en el mundo de la cumbia, el amor, el sexo, la lucha de clases y el
movimiento inmigracional durante los 90 en Buenos Aires. Pese a estar traducida a muchos idiomas y haber
obtenido un importante reconocimiento en el campo cultural, la literatura de Cucurto continúa generando
seguidores y detractores con la misma intensidad. Como artista visual realizó exposiciones en casas de
amigos y en noviembre de 2020 realizará una muestra de pinturas en la galería Sendrós de Buenos Aires.
I can't breathe
Like his books, the paintings and collages that Washington Cucurto has made for the
past four years reflect his interest in the city and the violence it harbours. Where the main
character in his books is immigration, in his most recent paintings Cucurto examines the
murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA, in June of this year on large canvases
featuring references to comic and street art. In these painting/collages, the artist
constructs chaotic, strident urban portraits in which police violence is meted out against
minorities and marginalized populations.
What is Identidad marrón?
Identidad marrón (Brown Identity) is a collective of indigenous, brown skinned people,
descendants of the original inhabitants of the Americas, that seeks to expose structural
racism in Argentina from a critical perspective, asking questions with a view to generating
change across society. Their actions are part of a larger fight against discrimination
waged in the spheres of art, law, social sciences and education.
Brown archetypes in the visual arts
Identidad marrón presents this overview of the different archetypes of brown/indigenous
people found throughout history. The visual arts in Argentina have historically been
dominated by the white gaze and even today brown and indigenous artists find it harder
to make their voices heard. This video questions the status quo and promotes some of
Everything that makes me who I am
‘My work includes everything that makes me who I am,’ says Sandro Pereira. His work
makes use of his body and its image to examine normalized bodily and racial models.
In this video, Pereira reveals his interest in identity and its fragile structures as well as
emphasizing the importance of the body in his most recent works.
Lucía Reissig and Bernardo Zabalaga
In 2018, Lucía Reissig and Bernardo Zabalaga combined their jobs as cleaners, on
both the material and immaterial planes, to put their heads together and think of cleaning
as the active transformation of a territory: a practice that renews our relationship with
life and energizes the flow and fabric of our private life. The video they present today
is a visual record of this collaboration accompanied by oral accounts
Through ‘La Chola’, an alter ego he’s been adopting in his performances for several
years, Mauricio Poblete presents an oral overview of his practice right up to his latest
drawings, done during the quarantine which return to his mythograms, which refer to
the indigenous painter Guamán Poma de Ayala. ‘La Chola’ was born out of a
biographical, matriarchal exploration of his Bolivian heritage. Poblete sees action art
as a means of creating a collective ritual out of a private event. ‘I’m a colonizer of the
images of the history of art, books and YouTube videos, looking to challenge models
of beauty, indulge in flourishes of impoverished pop and use the body as a spur for
reflection about the notion of identity, be it cultural, sexual, gender, national or class.’
Mauricio Poblete (Mendoza, 1989) took under and post-graduate degrees in the Visual Arts at the
Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. He has taken part in numerous collective and solo shows. His first
production Nascita di Chola, was exhibited at Casa Colmena and presented a series of photographs
of his alter ego La Chola. He has taken workshops with Diana Aisenberg and Max Gómez Canle,
among others and took part in the Artists Programme at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in 2018,
the 2018 Artists Programme at Marco Arte Foco and the Training and Experimentation Platform for
trans-disciplinary artists at the Complejo Teatral de Buenos Aires in 2019. He is a member of the
dissident artistic collective Comparsa Drag. He lives and works in Buenos Aires.
About Manicurated, Brinco and This Functional Family
A conversation between Judi Werthein and Javier Villa
Across a single day, #MuseoModernoEnCasa presents three works by Judi Werthein:
Manicurated (2002), Brinco (2005) and This Functional Family (2007), accompanied
by this conversation between the artist and Javier Villa, a museum curator.
In these projects, Werthein explores three different contextual dimensions – the
museum, the geopolitical frontier and the home – as they relate to communities that
have been historically marginalized and discriminated against. From bringing the
ghetto into a museum space as she did with her manicure salon at the Bronx Museum,
to the fabrication of trainers that at the Mexican border become a tool for illegal
immigration but on the American side a coveted consumer fetish, or the simple change
of skin between owner and servant or a manager of a colonial company and an
immigrant, Werthein makes connections that examine issues related to inclusion,
immigration and racism.
Judi Werthein (Buenos Aires, 1967) is an artist and co-founder of the Centro de Investigaciones Artísticas
de Buenos Aires. Her artistic practice is focused on the processes that shape and construct individuals
and collectives. She studied Architecture and Urbanism at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. Galleries that
have exhibited her work include the Tate Modern in London; De Appel, Amsterdam; Guggenheim Museum,
New York, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut; The Bronx Museum for the
Arts, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami; Center for Contemporary Art, Vilna and the Museum
of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. She lives and works in Miami and Buenos Aires.
For inSite_05, a project that invited artists to carry out research and production
specifically linked to the border between Tijuana and San Diego, Judi Werthein
developed Brinco: a training shoe brand made in China and sold as a luxury item in the
US but given away in Mexico to help migrants cross the border illegally. Exploring how
an object can be perceived and used in different ways depending on the context, the
project sparked a global debate in the media and art world and the artist found herself
the focus of different opinions and perspectives, some of which characterized her as a
revolutionary or a terrorist, and she was forced to leave the country after receiving death
threats. Project Brinco continued to be a media phenomenon, forcing art to present a
public agenda and also raising awareness of the basic issue: illegal immigration and the
different sensibilities and voices that revolve around it.
Judi Werthein, Brinco, 2005, inSite_05, Tijuana and San Diego
Invited by the Bronx Museum to develop a project that interacted with the collection,
Judi Werthein decided to set up a manicure salon in which customers/visitors could
choose from between ten artworks from the museum’s collection hanging in the
gallery to have painted on their nails ‘to take with them’. The project was inspired by
the museum’s lack of neighbourhood initiatives to involve local Bronx communities
in its activities. Werthein thus appropriated a popular practice in the area to introduce
new perspectives on the collection and radically transform the museum, creating a
living, effervescent meeting place that facilitated cross-overs between Afro-American,
Latinx and artistic communities, among others.
Judi Werthein, Manicurated, 2002, The Bronx Museum of the Arts
This Functional Family
In 2007, commissioned by Centrum Beeldende Kunst to create am artwork for a public
space in the City of Rotterdam Judi Werthein came up with an action that entered into
privacy of the home: a film to be shown on the city’s television channel. It was made in
the Sonneveld house, designed by a famous Dutch exponent of functional architecture,
which is currently open to the public. While visitors continued to tour the museum, the
artist recreated the life of Mr Sonneveld, manager of the largest tobacco factory in the
country (whose raw material was grown in the colonies), his family and his servants.
The artist tells the story with one simple but powerful twist: the rich, modern avant garde
family is black while the servants are white. This exchange of colour, introduced silently
into homes, addresses the issues of racism and colonialism, which generally seem
remote and invisible to the Dutch. It was a potent message from one house to another.
The artwork also challenges the notions of progress and freedom championed by
modernism through subjects such as Sonnevald by lifting the veil on the role of slavery
and exploitation in the colonies in the rise of European avant garde culture.
Judi Werthein, This Functional Family, 2007, single channel video, 13:00 min, CBK Rotterdam
A film by Yasmin Thayná
An empathetic gaze on the everyday racism experienced by black women every day.
The discovery of an ancestral power emanating from curly hair, transcending the
whitening process. In the words of the filmmaker Amaranta Cesar: ‘Kbela addresses
capillary transition as a form of emancipation of the black women and is, as its director
says: “an audiovisual experience about being a woman and going black.” In the piece,
‘going black’ refers to the experience of a subjective journey that runs from oppression
to emancipation via the transition involved in returning to the thick texture of black curls.
The work follows this journey avoiding individualism, symbolism and naturalistic
representation through a sequence of performatic scenes that together signal the
performative character of race and the collective aspect of the emancipatory process
There’s no mediation without noise
Memory, forgetting, commitment and empathy are the four closely interwoven themes
of Dudu Quintanilha’s work. His pieces are generally structured around group and
community activities while mistakes and noise are highlighted as being intrinsic to
communication and the relationship we establish with others and ourselves. In this
video, Quintanilha looks back over some of his recent works to consider how identity,
inclusion and the collective interact with and challenge each other.
What is Black Consciousness?
An initiative run by DIAFAR (African Diaspora of Argentina)
The anti-racism activist and member of DIAFAR (African Diaspora of Argentina) Sol
Duarte transfers Steve Biko’s concept of Black Consciousness, developed during the
struggle against apartheid, to the Argentine context. In our reality, the term ‘negro’ has
multiple meanings and DIAFAR sees it as being profoundly linked to identity above all.
Duarte also analyzes the different levels of racism in the system/world where we live
and in our country in particular.
Paladar negro (Black palate)
A playlist from Listen [Visual sounds]
Paladar negro is the name of playlist #006 in out musical cycle Listen [Visual sounds]
in which curators Jorge Haro and Leandro Frías present a series of albums containing
sounds from Africa followed by others that reveal the transformations, derivations
and adaptations that have appeared in the Americas.
A playlist from the Listen [Visual sounds] cycle
This playlist – prepared by the curators of our Listen [Visual sounds] cycle, Jorge
Haro and Leandro Frías, invites us on a journey around the world through a selection
of sounds that celebrate the enormous ethnic diversity and unfathomable cultural
richness of the planet.
A dance tutorial from Rulock
We invite you to dance at home. Rulock will present an overview of Afro-American
music and dance from the 70s to show how funk expressions form part of an ancestral
legacy expressed in the voices of the time.
The words of a student
In this interview with Flora Alvarado, a member of the Colectivo Identidad Marrón,
we offer reflections on the practice of inclusive teaching that is respectful of racial
differences. Alvarado analyzes the mechanisms by which racism is introduced into the
classroom by both students and teachers.