In the Spanish language, the “x” ending is used as an alternative to gendered nouns and adjectives (e.g., replacing the typically male vowel “o,” or the female “a”). You are invited to the Feministx Café (Spanish: “coffee,” “coffee house,” or “brown”): a space for sharing, caring, and strategizing.
The urgency of adopting a feminist perspective in the Mexican art context became clear to me through my own experience. I began working in the independent art scene of Mexico City in 2016, and quickly discovered numerous obstacles: in many galleries, female artists were underrepresented, and the contributions of women as curators or cultural workers were not always visible. Furthermore, in the independent scene, attitudes and language sometimes reflected a distinctly gendered culture: it seemed that, to “make it” in this precarious context, you had to have a kind of “toughness” and “street-smarts” associated with masculinity. At the same time, planning my work around safety was an everyday chore in Mexico City. It didn’t help that I was based in the urban periphery, far from the more popular, central, and rich neighborhoods for contemporary art. Something as simple as visiting an exhibition opening involved juggling personal safety against money and time—rare resources in the independent scene.
But even as many such problems have persisted, times were (and are) changing in Mexico. In the last decade, feminism became a driving force across the arts and culture sector, in many cases thanks to bottom-up and independent initiatives. Awareness is being raised about discrimination, representation, and economic precarity in the arts; conferences and events dealing with feminism have received more recognition and funding; and artists continue to relentlessly tackle feminist and queer topics. Crucially, these changes are happening within a wider, diverse and multifaceted movement, including indigenous feminism and alliances with the LGBTQ+ community. This context reveals the potential of feminism for grounding a truly inclusive shift: a necessity in a society characterized by extreme inequality, classism, racism, and a colonial history. Therefore, confronting sexism requires intersectional awareness; i.e., we must also attend to the way in which other forms of discrimination interact with sexism. By adopting feminist stances that reject essentialism and exclusion, I believe that we can carry forward the task of overturning binary thinking altogether.
With this aim in mind, this talk brings together two guests, Liz Misterio and Ingrid Cota Morgan, to discuss feminist strategies from Mexican contemporary art. Liz Misterio is an artist and curator, as well as a researcher and editor specialized in feminism, arts and culture; among other activities, she directs Hysteria!, a digital art and sexuality magazine, and works with INVASORIX art collective. Ingrid Cota is a visual artist who works with installation, performance, ritual, and magic to address normative standards of Western beauty as a form of violence and control. In this conversation, they will share their work and examine how art helps address sexual discrimination in Mexico, and how this type of work has evolved, both in and outside institutions. What strategies, aesthetics, and vocabularies can we use? And what can we learn from Mexico’s particular context and social movements?