November 12, 2004

A women’s artistic week in Tijuana

By Luis Alonso Pérez

Submissive, obedient and quiet. Attributes that defined Mexican women for many, many years.

Adjectives that became obsolete many decades ago, because of individual and collective efforts to prove that their work and social participation could be equal or better than any men’s work. A hard and exhaustive labor, in a close minded and “macho” society.

Cosette Delpeche and Diana Jimenez.

Last week two groups of women presented their work in Tijuana’s cultural centers. First with an event that honored the women who have been murdered in Ciudad Juarez, and with the presentation of the second volume of the magazine La Linea.

“Ni una muerta más” (No more dead women) said a banner, surrounded by candles, crosses and red shoes. A large altar was put up outside Tijuana’s Cultural Center, to remember and protest against the women murdered in Ciudad Juarez.

The women’s artistic group Martes participated in the event, they prepared the whole installation art, with candles, red shoes and aluminum cans with the phrase “Ni una mas” (not one more) a can similar to those produced in Juarez’s factories.

There was also a performance prepared for the event, which consisted in a woman wrapped up in bloody sheets, crawling around on the floor, and ending with a painful scream. An ending suffered by many of the hundreds of women who have been murdered.

Lourdes Lewis is a part of the group Martes, and she collaborated with the installation. “The murders are a terrible social conduct –she said– So we want to protest. This is a way of getting close to other women, especially to those who suffer.”

Two other groups participated in the event. They were all college students from graphic design.

The first one is called “Corporativo Anónimo” (Anonymous Corporation). A group of students concerned with the situation in Ciudad Juarez that collaborated with two paintings, which emerged from their member’s ideas.

The group is consisted of four women and two men that have decided to work completely as a team, without revealing their member’s names. Their objective is to express their feelings towards this problem in an abstract way.

“I lived in Ciudad Juarez –said one of the male members– and I noticed that this was a big problem, not just a news story, this is really going on, and it could happen to my sister, to a female friend or to my mother.”

Other participants were Cosette Delpech and Diana Jimenez, both graphic design students from Universidad Iberoamericana, who designed and made a cross with ten squares, each one with a different image on it.

According to Cosette and Diana, their work was inspired by a text from a Tijuana writer called Roberto Castillo titled “La vida no vale nada” (Life is worthless) that says that in the Border States women are considered as disposable objects, as second class citizens.

“Through images and words we try to make a graphic protest. Maybe this isn’t going to save somebody’s life, but at least we try to raise awareness among people.”

The other event organized by Tijuana’s women is the presentation of the second volume of the magazine La Línea, which happened on November 5th in Playas de Tijuana’s cultural center.

La Línea is an editorial project that began in 2002, with the objective of presenting the literary and graphic art made by women who live near the border. Each volume has a different subject, and allows us to see the different angles in which a same subject can be portrayed by each one of the collaborators.

According to Amaranta Caballero Prado, the project’s editorial coordinator, the idea of starting a magazine came up when “We saw that in the literary world they where very few spaces dedicated to women’s work, so we decided to start this project, so that young Mexican women could have a space for their literary and graphic work.”

Roberto Castillo was in charge of presenting the second volume of La Línea, and he made use of his skillfully crafted “tijuanero” vocabulary, and invited the assistants to support and participate with this project.

The writer Selene Preciado read her text published in this volume, in which she tells us about the experience of crossing the border every day from Tijuana to San Diego so she could go to high school. The experience of becoming “Fronteriza.”

Amaranta Caballero Prado read a text written by Ishtar Cardona, in her representation and as a greeting from continent to continent, because the author is currently living in Paris.

According to Amaranta, starting and keeping up a project like this required a lot of work from the collaborators, because it took many hours of hard unpaid work, and an exhaustive search for a printing house with reasonable prices, because the magazine printing was paid with their own money. But the reader’s support has been very favorable and has helped in different ways.

“It was an enormous achievement, that with only one number, we’ve had many invitations for lectures in Tijuana and San Diego, as well as invitations to participate in various artistic projects.”

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