Latina Artists: Their Stories Must Be Told

Posted by: Roy Wilbur

The following is an excerpt from an interview Elisa Wouk Almino had with Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, curator of the exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art at the Hammer Museum.  It appeared on Hyperallergic on December 5, 2017

In the aftermath of feminist art historian Linda Nochlin’s death, and in the midst of sexual harassment allegations in the art world and beyond, Radical Women is a poignant and necessary exhibition. Because, as Fajardo-Hill frankly puts it, we’re still proving art history that women artists are worth looking at and women are still fighting to control their own bodies.

Elisa Wouk Almino: There has only been one other large-scale museum exhibition in the US dedicated to Latin American women artists, at the Milwaukee Art Museum in 1995. At the same time, you’ve mentioned that there are still people in your field who question the need for exhibitions dedicated only to women artists. Could you talk about why you chose to pursue this show, what kind of historical gaps it fills, and why you think we still need exhibitions dedicated to women artists?

Cecilia Fajardo-Hill: As art historians you address which areas of the field you think are missing. The moment between 1960 and ’85 — everywhere in the world, not only Latin America — people were experimenting with the languages that became what is contemporary art today: video art, photography, conceptual art, and installation art. It wasn’t different for Latin American and Latina artists. But when you look at the books, women are not there. The history that has been told solely deals with men. And it is a wrong history.

When people during the first four years of the research told us that this exhibition was not relevant and unnecessary, it comes from a patriarchal perspective where they accept the history that we have as the status quo. And it’s very comfortable to think that history is OK, especially when you’re a man. I’m not OK with it. Because I know there have to be women. Linda Nochlin’s question was why there have never been great women artists. For us it was, where are the women?

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