In the decades following 1960, the dictatorships and authoritarian regimes dominating most of Latin America reinforced the dependent role of women, while institutionalizing inequality. Within this context, the human body took center stage for many female artists. Their experimental works—often favoring video, photography, and performance—introduced a shift in representations of the female form, while questioning patriarchal structures and regional politics.
Despite this, few of these artists would have referred to their work as “feminist.” Instead of a desire to advocate for women, their sensibilities were heavily shaped by the revolutionary struggle and the widespread resistance of their respective countries—even if their works did reflect a repertoire of issues addressed by feminism, such as motherhood, civil rights, and sexual violence.
“Many of these artists were active in left-wing movements,” explains Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, co-curator of the exhibition “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985” at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. “But for them, the rights of women were secondary, and the Left considered that feminism was bourgeois and imperialistic.”
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