This past fall term I had the privilege of studying abroad in Córdoba, Argentina. I thoroughly enjoyed the people, the language and, of course, the food really stood out. Likewise, the art was one of the areas of Argentine life that I especially enjoyed. A sector of art that especially interested me was political art.
One of the most prevalent issues Argentina is currently facing that is communicated through art is racism. I was able to attain an authentic taste of Argentine political art when I ventured to the Museum of Anthropology on a humid afternoon in mid October.
In light of the 200th anniversary of the independence of Argentina, the exhibit “Black on white, 200 years of racism” urges visitors to reflect on the bases and values that Argentina was built on and the continuity of discrimination and exclusion.
The exhibit explains that Argentina is a nation that viewed (and in some parts still does) white and European as synonymous with civilized while being Indian or black is associated with the role of “bad”, “wild” or “dark.” Frankly, it never dawned on me that during the process of this nation’s creation an entire group was marginalized and excluded (and still are).
Modern in representation and organization, the exhibit effectively portrays the evident anguish and oppression that minorities in Argentina still experience. Powerful black and white portraits scatter the white walls, accompanied by small passages.
The raw faces featured in the exhibit are people that attended the annual “Colectivo Manifiesto,” which is a yearly demonstration addressing the prevalence of racism in Argentina. The people featured in the portraits were of different ages and varied ethnicities. This further amplified the notion of tolerance and demonstrated that people of all origins believe in this cause.
I enjoyed how the photos were devoid of color and showed clearly distressedfaces. I thought it effectively demonstrated the blatant oppression that is deeply felt among a vast populace of people. Other subtle nuances that aided in the portrayal of the grief of the oppressed were the white walls that the portraits were placed against. They represented a cry of assimilation and integration into the white population that some people feel, or perhaps is mocking this viewpoint as well.
Not only did the exhibit present the side of the oppressed, but it also demonstrated the oppressor’s perspective. As stated before, there were also inscriptions accompanying the pictures. One quote, stated by José Ingenieros, perfectly depicts the hatred and hostility that is sadly still prevalent in Argentina. He states that race should be an indication of their worth, that men of color are unfit for the exercise of civil capacity and that they should also be removed from society. It is truly inconceivable that there are people who believe that a part of this civilization should be removed based off of the color of one’s skin. I truly enjoyed “Black on white, 200 years of racism” because not only did it depict the affliction of the oppressed, but also portrayed the animosity and harshness of the oppressors.