Part of the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies research seminar series.
This event will take place in the John Casken Lecture Theatre, at the Martin Harris Centre.
Margarita Ariza Aguilar was born in Buenos Aires, from where she moved to Barranquilla, Colombia when she was very young. Her artistic practice includes performance, video, drawing, painting, public space intervention, making objects and writing, participatory experiences and collaborative actions. In 2011, she started the Blanco Porcelana project that investigates the aspirations of whiteness in the family environment. Based on material she collected about daily beauty practices, verbal expressions, self-care routines, and perceptions of bodies, skin colour, and social status, Ariza revealed the permanence of racism in the shaping of subjectivities hidden in the guise of aspirations to whiteness. The project was censored by the Colombian courts, on charges of violation of family privacy. Then, in 2015, the Constitutional Court ruled in her favour, making it the first case of the protection of the right to free expression in the field of the arts.
Ariza is Dean of the Faculty of Visual and Applied Arts in the Departmental Institute of Fine Arts in Cali, Colombia, and teacher in the Plastic Arts programme. She directs the Aisthesis research group of the same faculty. She has been a professor at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and at ICESI University. In addition, she has served as a curator at the Museum of Modern Art and an external advisor to the Museum of Modern Art in Barranquilla. Ariza’s artistic practice includes collaborations and interventions in spaces such as museums, public transport and educational spaces. During the Festival of Art and Decoloniality 2019, at the Colonial Museum of Bogotá, the artist made a photographic intervention using the work La Marquesa de San Jorge, by Joaquín Gutiérrez (1775), showing how other mestizo, Afro-descendant and Indigenous bodies could occupy spaces of symbolic power represented by the portrait of the marchioness whose skin was described as “almost made of porcelain.”
The collaborations between Margarita Ariza and the CARLA project have been based on working together in the preparation of academic articles dissemination pieces about Ariza’s work, in particular her work on the figure and portrait of Juan José Nieto Gil, as part of the Black Enough? Project. The work involves the collaboration of 26 visual artists who critically explore the historical invisibilization of the portrait of Colombia’s only Afro president, a promoter of the abolition of slavery in the country during the second half of the republican period. Further collaborations will centre on developing creative processes of performance and reflections around the relationship between racism, whiteness and emotions.
Ariza’s work is related to the themes of the CARLA project in several ways. First, because she approaches racism from the angle of the aspiration for whiteness. She conceives of “white” beyond the colour of the skin, although she does not exclude this element, to show the way in which whiteness is produced and reproduced in everyday practices in private settings such as the family. Second, she is interested in the ways in which whiteness generates effects of invisibilization and un-marking of subalternized identities, forcing them to fit within the ideals of whiteness. In that sense, her work shows how whiteness is a racialized construction of difference. Finally, her work is related to the lines of interest of the CARLA project due to its affective dimension that permits an analysis of the politics of affect through exploring the effects the artworks generate in different audiences.
For more information about this artist, see https://blancoporcelana.wordpress.com/