Make problems everywhere

Fabiana Faleiros, Rio de Janeiro
October 17, 2017

Viva the fat ones,

Viva the brown ones

I want to be a woman without models to imitate

To be a faggot you have to be brave

Disobedience

In spite of you I will be happy

I don’t carry your semen

I vomit your humiliation

Woman, not submissive nor devoted

Free, pretty and crazy

Indigenous, whores and lesbians together

Rebellious sisterhood

Sovereignty in my country

Sovereignty in my body

 

“Bolivia is the ass of Latin America”, said Maria Galindo in The Apatride Society of the Political Others, one of the societies which formed The Parliament of the Bodies, the public program of documenta 14, organized by Paul Preciado. Maria Galindo, who is an anarchofeminist and one of the founders of Mujeres Creando, an unarmed Bolivian urban guerrilla collective, presented her Manifesto of Feminist Insurrection in Kassel and Athens (or the ass of Europe, as she said). Bolivia represents for Latin America what Greece represents for Europe: a non-place, a peripheral place. And it’s from this place that she introduced herself. Not with the intention of claiming a national identity, but because she “likes to enjoy the ass”, this place that doesn’t count, that doesn’t have weight. With Documenta coming to an end, it’s worth paying attention to the two parallel, contradictory and non-binary endings which Maria Galindo brought to her talk in Athens and Kassel.

Learning from Mujeres Creando

Based on the experience of feminist activism that has been taking the streets of Bolivia as a political and social forum for more than twenty years, Maria presented her theory of subversion with concepts that she takes, in part, from her book ¡A Despatriarcar!: Feminismo Urgente.[1] Her discourse emerges from concrete actions and it is implicated in the invention of new politics, new utopias, and new resistance strategies. Mujeres Creando has already invaded a live television program on the state-run Bolivia TV channel, whose general manager was accused of sexual harassment. They hold pro-abortion demonstrations in public spaces where women who have had the experience of abortion bear witness, and offer concrete anti-neoliberal policy services, such as negotiations with banks to clear debts of unemployed and indebted women. It’s from the streets and from the Casa Virgen de los Deseos, an autonomous community center not attached to any political parties, NGO’s, or governments, neither left nor right wing, located in La Paz and Santa Cruz, that Mujeres Creando articulate their non-violent but threatening and dangerous struggle against the patriarchy — against both state violence and domestic violence. She belongs to this collective body which has a day care center and a radio station in which women broadcast news about their struggles or denounce abuses they have suffered. They also publish political-educational material such as the 13 Hours of Rebellion documentary.

Graffiti by Mujeres Creando. It reads: “We are bad, we want to be worse.” Mujeres Creando Archive.

In The Parliament of the Bodies Maria began by describing the dissolution of the proletariat in the context of neoliberalism. She continued her manifesto stressing the need to create complex and heterogeneous struggles in the face of the agonizing representative liberal democracy — and Greece is an ideal place to say that democracy is a simulation apparatus. With the fall of the universal proletarian subject who operated as a cohesive figure in the struggle, the only hero, the male protagonist, is in crisis. The heroic savior act of martyrdom has lost its meaning as a social intervention.

Highlighting the neoliberal rhetoric of demands and concessions of rights, which tries to turn the feminist fight into an addendum of liberalism, Maria wonders if it makes sense to call yourself a feminist today, and criticizes the phenomenon of “NGOization” which in the ‘80s and ‘90s attempted to institutionalize feminism throughout Latin America. The role of NGOs in the “failed feminist revolution” was developed, along with the structural adjustment imposed by the World Bank in Latin America, as the neocolonial project which built the relationship between gender and the development myth, based on the generalization of the category “woman” by biological condition. This appropriation of feminism, which she calls “gender technocracy”, camouflaged class and racial privileges through the discourse of including women in positions of state power without bringing on significant changes, such as the legalization of abortion and the decrease of feminicides. For her, in the face of this neo-liberal, white, middle-class, NGO feminism whose banner is inclusivity and equality, one of the most important critical goals is to expose its class character and its Eurocentric origin, imposed and replicated as a global model for the “liberation” of women.

Therefore, the re-appropriation of the word “feminism” is central for a laboratory of concrete feminism like Mujeres Creando. Working with both utopias and what is urgent here and now, they are experts in creating resistance strategies to break with the linguistic fossils of the Left. Their struggles are connected to the daily occupation of the streets, with the aesthetics and life of the smugglers, street vendors and women who build a parallel anti-State social fabric that guarantees forms of subsistence. They occasionally navigate the white supremacist art scene in order to gain visibility, money, and to cause a certain stomach ache. They are not interested in the exotic and colonizing art world: “Because we also need some fun. Our revenge is to be happy.”

There is an outside

But how do we carry out these complex and heterogeneous struggles, when they often become empty political formulas in constant and exhausting cycles of appropriation, whether by the State, the market, or by the slogans of the big art exhibitions? Producing other notions of justice, well-being and everyday life is no longer a task for the universal macho-proletarian, but for a collective situated subjectivity. “In which furnace can we cook this complexity?”, she asked, pointing out that this construction is only possible through a real political subject who makes the ideological operation of connecting patriarchy with any other fundamental elements of the struggle. This subject is also a metaphorical one: the indigenous women, the whores, the lesbians and the insane all together forming a rebellious sisterhood. Only these forbidden, unacceptable and indigestible alliances can challenge the neoliberal domestication of dissident voices which makes us fall into the logic of pairs (faggots with faggots, peasants with peasants, prostitutes with prostitutes). What interests Maria is the connection between subjects, not politics of identity.

The Manifesto also touches on the question of auto-victimization. To take the self as a point of enunciation can be politically subversive in marking differences, seeking peers, and moving away from the universal subject, but to perpetuate this gesture of enunciation and self-affirmation can turn identity into a comfortable, self-reliant, social masochism, an ambivalent position between putting yourself in the role of the victim and becoming a myth of oneself, the one who can only react. Maria also criticizes another comfortable place, the art scene, which often uses the third person: to aestheticize the pain of the other, to talk for the poor, the prostitute, the marginalized, exerting power and violence while perversely obtaining applause and rewards.

The last point of the Manifesto of Feminist Insurrection is revolution. For Maria Galindo, the Marxist-Leninist conception of revolution left behind the inheritance of the unreachable: the revolution as a heroic act of killing the enemy to take the State power of a third party. The current Latin American Left has become an umbrella of great ideological discussions that do not translate into concrete policies. Therefore, it is necessary “to wash, cook, weave, another way of understanding the revolution”, between the resignation of neoliberal and State blackmail and the archaic and absurd concept of revolution. The place of revolution is the street, the place of politics par excellence. In the street all social complexities converge. The street is a political place, theoretically and philosophically indispensable. At the same time it’s a horizon, a utopia, an impossibility. It’s a place of reinvention which allows one to get out of the liberal voracity that engulfs everything, all possible identities and policies. Maria Galindo understands the street as an outside of the art institution, the parliament, the academy. Talking about Latin America, women are taking to the streets across the continent. “And this outside wants justice and happiness with a furious open mouth that States and institutions can not satisfy. The righteousness that we dream and imagine is not satisfied by the institution.”

The Ends

The Manifesto finishes with two possible ends to the schizophrenic situation of documenta 14. Originally, there was a third end, a participatory one. But the necessary material didn’t arrive in Kassel nor Athens (it got stuck somewhere between the USA and Bolivia, since every package that leaves Bolivia has a label which says “dangerous” or “Narcobound”). Thus, we have two parallel, contradictory endings. Two non-excluding, non-binary possibilities. One is happy and the other one is supposedly sad. The happy ending was printed on an official paper of the Bolivian Parliament. Maria had stolen the sheets to print the single article of the Parliament of the Bodies:

The Parliament of the Bodies is constituted as a non-institution established in the streets. The Parliament of the Bodies is the street, as a radical outsider from where history can be modified and created. The intention is to open a space of confluence of disparate and disconnected fights in order to break the conceptual framework in which we inevitably fall in. The idea is to give us the opportunity to exchange forms of subversion, so that our fights can be less anguishing, funnier, more effective and slower. The only purpose of this parliament is to generate a world disorder in multiple senses, at the same time. In this parliament we do not legislate, we do not concede nor expropriate rights, construct nor exploit the political representation of the no-one. In this parliament we breathe, we conspire and we transpire.

For her supposedly sad ending in Athens, Maria emphasized that her presence in documenta 14 wasn’t naive, and that she was aware of the institutional and political contradictions of the space she was in. Then, she asked us to be suspicious of Documenta, and ourselves. With a pair of scissors she opened a paper box full of fake Euro bills, brought directly from Bolivia. The notes represented the 35 million euros which was the budget for documenta 14. She threw the money on the floor and at the audience, while chanting: “For those who think they were underpaid by Documenta… for those who think that the money was badly used and offends the structural adjustment in Greece… for those who think that in Documenta the truthful hierarchies are measured with money… for those who think that the criticism towards Documenta in Athens begins and finishes in how much money was used…”.

Maria Galindo at The Parliament of Bodies in Athens. Photo by Raúl Hott.

For the sad ending in Kassel, Maria asked for a man from the audience to join her on stage, where she had an object from Bolivia, which stood in contrast with the ostentatious Parthenon of the Books. The object cost 10 Euros and signified a form of survival in the streets of Bolivia: a shoe polishing toolbox. She asked the German man who answered her call to blindfold and gag her with a cloth. Then, she started polishing his shoes. A living metaphor which touches a historic trauma. A living metaphor for what Germany represents to Bolivia: an imperialist country which extracts raw materials for the price of a “dead chicken.”


[1] GALINDO, Maria. ¡A Despatriarcar!: Feminismo Urgente. Santa Cruz: Ed. Lavaca, 2016.

* Thank you to Jarri Pswmí and My Borglund for editing, and Gian Spina for revision.

Fabiana Faleiros

Fabiana Faleiros

Fabiana Faleiros is a poet, performer and researcher. She is Lady Incentivo and doctored in Art and Contemporary Culture at UERJ, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Currently she is participating in the Capacete residency in Athens.

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