Celebrating Radical Women

The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles is extolling artistic feminism and political activism in a new exhibition entitled “Radical Women: Latin American Art 1960-1985.”

Seeking to exalt the resistance of female artists towards dictatorial regimes and patriarchal oppression, the exhibition features the politically perceptive pieces of such radical women as Lygia Pape, Ana Mendieta and Marta Minujín. Through their work—in a fashion defined by a movement cleverly dubbed “artivism”—these female artists explicitly shed light on such societal epidemics as sexual assault, censorship and poverty. Utilizing a diverse array of mediums—photography, sculpture, oil and acrylic on canvas and mixed media—they offer to the public an emotionally captivating chronicle of life during years of immense unrest, corruption and revolution in Latin America.

The exhibit’s opening ceremony was met with widespread anticipation and enthusiasm. The line at the entrance to the museum spanned several blocks, boasting an impressively eclectic crowd of patrons eagerly clamoring for a glimpse at the revolutionary demonstration. Men and women congregated together in equal numbers, bumping elbows and exchanging important dialogue with accompanying teens and small children.

The installation was curated by Cecilia Fajardo-Hill and Andrea Giunta and was presented in conjunction with Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA—a Southern California art alliance aiming to bridge cultural divides between the U.S. and Latin America. In assembling the collection, Giunta and Fajardo-Hill professed a desire to underscore themes that would “draw together the artworks across national and geographic boundaries, making the case for parallel practices by artists often working in very different cultural conditions.”

The exhibit comes at a uniquely relevant time across nations. It opened in the wake of the death of Maria Fernanda Castilla, whose brutal murder by a cab driver prompted the staging of demonstrations throughout Mexico in protest of the prevalence of violence against women. It also comes in the midst of the Trump administration’s attacks on women’s rights and, in particular, immigrants of Latin American origin. The works encompassed in the gargantuan exhibit tackle issues like violence against women, menstruation, labor rights and sexual fluidity. Cohesive in their kinship to one another, the pieces also boast nations of origin spanning the whole of Latin America—from Argentina to Cuba to Mexico and back again.

“Radical Women” crosses borderlines in its subject matter and breaks boundaries in its presentation. Don’t miss it.

The exhibit will run at the Hammer through December 31.  Admission is free, and the museum conducts complimentary English and Spanish language tours every Saturday at 1PM, granting visitors the option of partaking in a fully guided tour, or, if so inclined, a 20-minute gallery introduction followed by a self-guided exploration. The museum also periodically offers curator walk-throughs at a limited capacity, in addition to staging musical performances, and hosting film screenings all pertaining to the exhibition. Comprehensive biographies and supplementary links to the websites of each of the artists featured in the exhibit are also available online.

Sarah Alexander is a recent graduate of Cal State Northridge. In addition to being a writer, she is a visual and performing artist, and attempts to use film, music and online platforms to spark conversation about social activism. She is an anomalous LA native, which affects her personality in a plethora of unique ways.

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