As a survivor of the Argentine dictatorship (1976-1983) that made us endure the consequences of state terrorism, it is very hard for me to see now in power in Argentina a government that, although it calls itself democratic, is based on lies, ignores justice, monopolizes the media, blacklists workers to remove them from their jobs, represses and kills people.
My new series of paintings, “Opposite Colors,” exposes a country divided by the hatred generated by the forces of neoliberalism, confusing people with promises of a worldly paradise, and false blame of the previous government for all the country’s problems. The media collaborates by manipulating the news and distorting the truth. This indoctrination, performed by a corrupt media before the last elections, brainwashed many Argentines, inducing them to vote for a political party opposite to their ideals of a true democracy.
My work “Mediatized/Mediatizado,” shows a character reading the most corrupt newspaper while many yellow balloons–the new president’s campaign symbols of happiness–are flying over his head.
In another painting, “Deflated/El desinfle” I tried to express the disappointment of this character after realizing he supported the wrong candidate, whose new political measures affect the whole population.
My painting “No to Vultures/Buitres No” shows people protesting against the privatization of universities. Because public schools and colleges are free, working parents in Argentina have been able to send their children to study. The foreign debt of the new government and its negotiations with large corporations are a permanent menace that impact cultural, social, and economic rights.
In Argentina, we can now see the police often harassing street vendors who are trying to sell their merchandise for a living. This is the subject of my work “Pushfulness/ Preponderancia,” where armed police threaten an old woman because the new regulations forbid her from selling in the streets.
The government is also using police force to suppress demonstrations like the one when thousands of women demonstrated against the increasing number of feminicides. I have painted this horror and the government’s silence about this problem in my painting “No More Feminicide/No más feminicidio.” Recently the protests that took place around the country against the new measures to reduce all social security benefits for the elderly and retired people were strongly repressed by the army and the police.
RAQUEL PARTNOY is a painter, poet, and essayist. Her work has been shown in more than 100 exhibits, and she has lectured at universities in Argentina and the U.S. Her poems and essays have been published in several anthologies. Her poetry collection Ciudad de rojos horizontes (City of Red Horizons) was issued by Hemisferio Derecho in Argentina. A new book of poetry, Hand Resisting (Las Manos Resisten), is forthcoming from 7 Sellos Editorial.