Who Can Erase the Traces?

  • Abstract:

    Despite the increasing democratization that followed the long era of dictatorships, the Latin American continent continues to show the highest indices of social inequality in the world. This paper will focus on the work of the Guatemalan artist, Regina Jose Galindo (b. 1974), considering how her artistic practice responds to censorship and human rights violations, through a close engagement with “¿Quien puede borrar las huellas?” 2003 (Who can erase the Traces?). Galindo’s work intervened in the daily activity of Guatemala City and by doing so reactivated debates about economic, legal,and military processes that were undeniably problematic. The performance makes a direct comment on military violence in Latin America and is considered “a poetic metaphor for the act of inscribing inerasable memories — in this case, memories of those killed by the military.” The artist reclaims strategies belonging to a tradition of political art that was censored during the dictatorships. Over the course of the transitional periods and the recent re-democratization of Latin America, her work has been seen as an alternative to decorative and post-utopian art. Galindo tends to promote dissidence in the public sphere through the mechanism of disillusionment and disenchantment.She is intent on understanding reality as historical and conflictive rather than natural or harmonious. Indeed, through her activist performances, and by using her body, the artist recalls notions of national identity and the formation of a social imaginary.