I can only introduce
myself as an impostor.
An impostor inside
any institutional body, an impostor who gains meaning,
courage and strength only from outside the institution,
only from outside the system.
Outside and not inside.
Not from within the art gallery,
Not from within the institution,
Not from within acceptance,
Not from within legitimacy,
Not from within the system.
Because the system
is not everything.
Because the system
is not the reality that surrounds us. It is not even a
significant part of the reality that surrounds us, which
envelops and develops us.
It is outside where
I find and gain a sense of reality.
And even if it sounds
like a teenage fantasy, I dare to affirm: outside the
system there is no emptiness (the emptiness with which
they threaten us). Outside the system there is no vacuous
state. Their threats are about expelling us from legitimacy
and towards that emptiness, where nothing of what we
do, say, feel or dream counts or has any value.
It is precisely
this threat that we aim to challenge by positioning
ourselves outside and not inside the system. If we did
Where, then, would
it be possible to locate all that exists outside a system
Or is it perhaps
that the system has already swallowed it all?
Or is there
anything that lies outside the administrative system of
violence and reputations?
The outside certainly
exists somewhere. We hope for that and we live for that.
We search for it in everything that, at the centre of
its own interests, the system considers as inefficient,
non productive, crazy and unpleasant, uncomfortable;
that which is ugly, dirty and suspicious or dangerous.
These are qualities
that we accept as ours. These are fears and desires that
are slowly imposed and instilled upon us through our
senses without a chance for distancing or reflection.
And we live numbed
by these fears. We, men and women, feel driven by those
fears, by those categorizations and manipulations that
we have had to live through.
That is why we have
decided to place ourselves outside and not inside.
However, where does
the outside lie? The outside does not lie at the margins
of, and neither consists of a marginality of society or
What lies outside
the system is all that which the system has not yet been
able to subsume.
I am no mediator
for anyone, because I cannot even mediate the voices
of the women from Mujeres Creando. Their voices are
complex and direct, expressive by themselves. They accept
We can only speak
in the first person. We are neither interpreters nor
spokeswomen of each other's practices and actions. We do
not speak in the name of one another because I am 'the
other' when I express what I believe in and feel, within
a scenario that was never given or borrowed.
I do not voice what
the Indigenous woman thinks and feels.
I do not voice what
the prostitute thinks and feels.
I do not voice what
the lesbian feels and thinks.
their own language and speaks by themself. Their voices
are direct, expressive voices. They are words full of
life, a life full of expression, which is their own and
We stand outside
that scenario, outside that system, and at our centre
rest the sensitivities of our society. This centre has
allowed us to build, not castles in the air, or an illusion
with revolutionary tinges, but a key referent of rebellion
and transgression for those that are called prostitutes,
or crazy women, or indigenous women, for the girls and
youngsters or for the elderly women that reject and
fight against their tiredness, for the lesbians and
for all the women that are rebellious. Along the lines
of what these women have to claim we are constructing
Our discovered treasures
are those unique and yet prohibited alliances that we
By destroying all
possible preconceived scripts, we offer these unique
alliances with an unprecedented originality in order to
be able to embrace each other and to make compromises
with one another.
We offer these
unique alliances as a revolutionary proposal and against
those preconceived scripts attributed to us as
fossilized and objectified identities. These identities
which have been turned into walls which separate and
divide love, loved ones and skins.
Our strategies are
alien to the art world,
Our strategies are illiterate
Our strategies are unambiguous
and outside of legality,
These strategies our own and
Our strategies are like children
that learnt their skills from others,
In this sense we recreate strategies,
Our strategies come
incessantly from the streets, the city, from the world
outside. They come from the survival skills of women
working at market stalls in the centre of the city,
their shelters forming a barricade raised against the
sun and the heat, and against the encroachment of
These women are
professional forgers of labels such as Reebok, Nike,
Benetton, Sony or Microsoft. They build and work in an
strategies that are alive only within spontaneous street
markets, they become a blending of appropriations and
desires forged under a resistance that neither the
politicians, nor the police forces
or the IMF can control. Falsification and
disobedience are the main traits of this market.
We are inspired by
the skills of men and women who shrewedly subvert the
frontiers and the states of the North. Despite their
fear, their poverty and the colour of their skin they
develop strategies that are forbidden and illegal.
inspire us and many others and they multiply. These
strategies appear detached and alien to 'art' and to the
They are, however
evident, invisible strategies, and are made invisible,
anonymous and illiterate. They are irreverent,
courageous and persistent in order for a society like
Bolivia or any other region or country from the "first
world" with similar characteristics to live and to
are a rupture of control. They enable the survival of
thousands of jobless people within an economy that only
generates serfdom and unemployment and which offers no
opportunities for education, healthcare or housing.
It is these
strategies that enliven us and inspire us.
alien to any form of social recognition, have in common
the capacity to generate long chains of information and
of resistance. They are clandestine activities within
public spaces, within symbolic and economic spaces. That
is why they are alien to the art world, that is, a world
that includes only
that which is allowed.
belong only to life and society. They are not "artful"
devices, and neither do they belong to a world of simulacra.
They spring from conviction and have the power to
transform one thing into something else.
We are the
apprentices of those market-stall women who, long before
us, made forgeries of brand-name goods. We learned from
them that the street is a space for participation, a
vital place for our society, our own political scenario,
our own lines of communication.
a tool for social change and social change as a creative
Is identity our shelter,
a barricade for resistance?
Within the system,
your sex, the colour of your skin, your age, your social
status, your culture of origin or your sexuality can be
bought or sold, traded. Your nose, your mouth, the shape
of your face, the size of your underwear, your pleasure
and your skills, your suffering, everything can be
packed, sold and consumed.
It is the system
that deals with it all. The system generates, lives on
this process of commodification and breathes through it.
It is, however, in
the interstices of this globalised patriarchy that
spaces of resistance are built: we create our own
symbolic manifestations, our political identities, our
Wherever we are and
live, the supermarket
prevails as the aesthetic, cultural and political model.
The Supermarket is
the space and mechanism that transforms difference into
variety. It turns freedom of choice and the capacity for
decision-making only into acts of consumerism.
aesthetic model and thanks to its 'well managed' variety,
our existential and social identities turn themselves
into mere objects, into appearances with no real meaning.
The Supermarket is
the place for that variety with no limits.
It is the place for
an organised, classified and properly packed 'variety'.
It is a hygienic
and clean place.
It is a place for
The Supermarket is
a place of light and vibrant colour.
The Supermarket is
the aesthetic, cultural and social model for the system,
a metaphor of our condition. This is a model that operates
through impersonal mechanisms and a space where neither
our responsibilities nor our desires and mediations
are self-evident. Neither does it enter into discussion
or mediation with them. It simply happens, and functions,
this being what seems most convenient within and for
reality. Its capacity for adding up 'variety' and packing
it operates beyond its own ethical, political and aesthetic
Inside this space
we only come across ambiguous and confusing relations.
It becomes a state of exception, a space contingent upon
the desires of the system. There are possibilities for
everything and for everyone, men and women. The ground
As part of a consumerist
routine, this model holds the capacity to consume 'variety'
and to keep it in captivity and within the logic of
the system: it subsumes its cultural and social identities
co-opts its anti-establishment struggles.
The space of the
Supermarket does not know ethical, political or
It translates difference
into variety in order to reify domination.
It creates an
unreachable illusion of variety.
This arrogant totality
seeks to annihilates the possibility of creating, feeling,
living and acting beyond the logic of the system, outside
the models of the Supermarket system.
This arrogant totality
leaves us only with one option: to search for and to
desire a place within an orderly system, without even
having the possibility to risk looking outside that
we, women, learn only how to imagine:
That beyond the domains
of the system there is only a void.
That beyond its
parameters there exists
only craziness and the absurd, solitude, anonymity and
That outside the
system there is only a dangerous place, from where one's
voice would not be heard.
That outside the
system there is only a place from where one would scream
and cry in vain.
And this place
would offer no home or shelter.
It is when we only
imagine in this way that we accept our place in society,
in isolation, a place "on the shelf":
One resting next to
alienated from itself.
One next to another.
One on top of the
One below another.
One without mixing
with the other.
One instead of the
It subtly but
effectively colonizes and commodifies identities.
At a higher or a
lower intensity, these colonized identities slowly and
imperceptibly begin turning into appearances; they stop
being an identity. These identities become, in turn,
decadent and outdated appearances. As appearances, they
become cultural and social stereotypes fully devitalized,
consumed and destroyed. They have suffered from a
process of legitimacy and consumption.
Making them feel
and takes over an identity when identity loses its content,
when it renounces its own expression, when it ceases
to upset the system and when it ceases to get into conflict
with it. Appearance replaces identity when identity
stops being itself and when it becomes an innocuous
and decorative element totally incorporated within the
identity when it has become legitimized and neutralized,
when its capacity for subversion and interpellation is
lost and when it adopts an agreeable attitude.
Appearance replaces and takes over identity when, once
its languages and ethics have been mutilated, it becomes
part of the system.
Within the System:
and indigenous men are part of the national folklore.
Lesbians and gay
men talk about sex, AIDS prevention and marriage.
Women claim their
payments within the system.
Supporters of 'third
world' ideologies discuss development and international
at the centre of an interchange that annihilates it.
Our attempts are
intended to break with a consumerist routine and with
the colonization of our identities. That is why, for
us, creativity is not an obsessive search for what is
new or a novelty, but a strategy for struggle that lies
in our hands and that is part of our lives.
Creativity is not
about searching for form and content.
Creativity for us
begins from the skin, with which we touch and we explore
the most sensitive and erogenous layers of our society.
It is this creative
stance that fills the space, the streets our body, and
our collective memory, because we have learnt how to
stimulate, enhance and to bring out these areas. We have
learnt how to caress them, give them affection and bring
them back to life.
Our strategy for
struggle is creativity and our space of action is society's
And that is how,
intuitively, we can dismantle social hierarchies and
binary spatial relations of inside and outside, of what
lies above and below, north and south.
Unique and prohibited
Announcing and voicing
our differences does not suffice:
I am woman,
I am lesbian,
I am an indigenous woman,
I am mother,
I am whore,
I am old,
I am young,
I am disabled,
I am white,
I am dark,
I am poor.
We do not formulate
our differences because it is not within our interests
to reflect on their significance within the system.
Neither do we limit
ourselves to announcing them because living through
them and uncovering them is only our starting point
In order to form
identities and subversive heterogeneities, I need to
create a ground for ambiguity. I need to confuse, mix
up, and supplement my differences, my histories, my
fears, my talent and skills with another's, which are
different from mine.
This action makes
my difference dangerous for the system since, instead of
the system absorbing my difference, my difference
threatens the system by joining that which the system
prohibits me to join.
That is how
difference and identity should be experienced and lived
through, as a fragment.
Living and experiencing
difference and identity as a fragment that is in a constant
state of transformation allows me to move beyond those
identity scripts assigned to me by the system. It equally
allows me to move beyond being simply a victim. Instead,
wherever I am and whoever I become, I become myself
a threat to the system, because in this way of life,
my identity urges me only to form alliances and solidarities.
It urges me to construct complex and challenging voices.
Departing from and
taking into full consideration what I want to become
also allows me to generate social disorder. We have been
able to weave this together. This is what we, together,
wanted to be and become. The platform from which we
operate is a challenging provocation and it constitutes
our identity in a constant process of transformation.
This is a new and fresh identity that refuses closure
and resists simplification. It does not end in a
non-pluralist and fixed discourse. It is unique because
it operates beyond what is legitimate and it is creative
because it is capable of disturbing social hierarchies.
Our actions dismantle
the power games that before used to silence us. Visually
and performatively we forget who is supposed to be above
and below, so that we are able to set up a space for
contestation and hence we are able to subvert all forms
of oppression and domination. We place ourselves next
to one another, back to back, one in front of the other,
according to the necessities of each specific struggle.
alters the order of what is believed as acceptable. It
is a circular choreography that belongs to all or to
no-one. In the choreographies that we create the
cardinal referents have lost orientation and inverted
their interests. In them now the north looks south and
subversion is the centre of all social relations.
We state and place
design our degree of provocation,
We choose our own
We choose the
We choose the place
and the time according to our own agendas of
love and struggle.
And at the same
time as we do all this, psychiatrists, judges, doctors,
civil servants, mediators and technocrats redesign,
manipulate and construct a reality according to their
own expectations. However, unexpectedly and beyond their
own calculations, this initiative remains on our side
and in our own hands.
which is our treasure, requires our own dreams and
horizons. It demands acrobatics, juggling and
unforeseeable flexibilities in order to perform each day
a new, different, unexpected and subversive
Isabel Sainz Ezquerra with the assistance of Celia Jameson.
Although a literal translation
is not possible, we have attempted to retain the meaning
and feel of the original Spanish text.