FOR A COMMON ARCHIVE POLICY A call for a good practice agreement

If 10 years ago—in her emblematic keynote address—Suely Rolnik warned about the “furor of the archive” unleashed around ephemeral or dematerialized practices that intertwined art and politics since the sixties and seventies in Latin America, today there can be no doubt about the devastating consequences caused by the withdrawal of the State (and the subsequent lack of public policies) as well as the art market’s excessive voracity for these and many other documentary collections.

This appeal embraces and joins a broader concern regarding the deterioration, fragmentation and privatization to which archives of different nature are being exposed (a concern voiced by international organizations such as the International Council on Archives and Archivists Without Borders, among others). Finding, therefore, a common heritage at risk, we now feel the compelling need to respond to the urgent appeal made to us by a shared responsibility. The two fires that destroyed most of the Helio Oiticica Archive and the Brazilian National Museum, respectfully—although dramatic milestones of an irreparable loss—, aren’t but the most visible face of what is prompting this alert state. The privatization and dispersion of numerous collections in the hands of private collectors reveals a more insidious, persistent, silent face.

In view of this situation, we call to contribute to laying the foundations to reach an agreement in order to promote a binding policy for a common archival management that will not get caught in the dichotomy between public and private spheres. We see it necessary to harmonize criteria and methodologies, and unite communities that can sustain and be co-responsible for an archival policy committed to promoting cognitive justice and epistemological solidarity thus broadening the scope of their political and institutional imagination.

We launch this call for all those individuals and groups involved in activities related to archives; depositors and guardians, archivists, researchers, artists, activists, institutions such as archives, libraries, universities, museums, documentation or research centers, local, national and international networks, in order to establish together a series of criteria and guidelines for good practices and, above all, to implement common measures for reducing the hazards that now threaten archives or have already affected them.

We regard the following to be some basic non-negotiable starting points, when it comes to promoting a common archive policy:

  1. Defend the integrity oftt archives and documentary sets: Prioritizing the indivisibility of archives is a fundamental archival principle, if we want to prevent their fragmentation and dispersion. The distinction between original artwork and its record has favored the segmentation of the documentary body by highlighting some parts to the detriment of the rest. Therefore, we also stress the need to respect the internal logic of each archive in order to safeguard their production contexts, rejecting the imposition of any previously defined organizational criterion that might erase or obliterate the unique history of each documentary body.
  2. Promote localization: leave no institutional option untried that may allow archives to remain in the site where the experiences they convey took place in order to prevent their decontextualization or alienation from their original contexts, and to favor situated knowledge around their memories. In cases where archives have already been relocated, ensure access (either digital or through physical copies) to the place of origin of the practices, even if the archives are no longer physically there. A situated institution is not that which is located at a specific geographical place, but that which is able to protect contexts and restore archives’ historical and social conditions.
  3. Generate adequate conditions for the preservation of records and facilitate access to them, both material and digital. Digitization per se does not guarantee an easy access to material documents nor their successful destination, and it is necessary to be alert to the risk of technological obsolescence of the recording and storage devices we use. Both material and immaterial preservation of documents are to be opted for, and for this, access an use (reading, consultation, exhibition, writing on the collection) is crucial.We call all those involved in archival work and policy-making to ensure public access to these materials, favoring diverse uses, which shouldn’t just be restricted to consultation or exhibition, but allow for other modes of activation. To recover an access policy at different levels, allowing remote digital access, but also reinvigorating the invaluable experience of a direct relationship with physical materials, shared with other people, by appealing to the communities involved and all those interested.
  4. Promote co-responsibility agreements between institutions, depositors and custodians, subjects of documents, artists, activists, researchers and their respective communities and all those interested, based on the reciprocity between the different agents involved in each archive, irrespective of their level, and commitments shared for the sustainability of the archives in the long term. Contribute to forming a community of care around each file.
  5. Activate archival imagination as a strategy to respond more effectively to the actual changing critical moment, and to an increasingly aggressive market. Diversify and create tactics to preserve the integrity of the archives, with the prospect of establishing institutional and extra-institutional alliance policies that might allow archives to be maintained as a common property jointly managed. 

We conceive of this archival imagination as a way to leave this call open to inventing new possibilities, for we know that the first four urgent points may not be enough. Archival imagination means, thus, a call to attend to the present movements in order to find situated answers. For this, we call all those interested to activate both historical imagination—which can bring us back practices of older times capable of summoning their disruptive power over the present, and encouraging their future dimension—, and internationalist imagination, which can help share conflicts and solutions of different latitudes, new decentered solutions that refuse to be aligned along the traditional north-south axis or the center-periphery distinction.

We invite all those who, individually, collectively or institutionally, agree with this proposal to adhere to this call as a a stance-taking act, to expand its scope and, above all, to promote it as a common and binding policy for the different concrete archive situations we are involved in.


Red Conceptualismos del Sur

Archiveras sin fronteras (Chile) 

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (España)

Archivo General de la Universidad de la República (Uruguay)

Centro de Artes Visuales / Museo del Barro (Paraguay)

Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (Chile)

Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, MUAC-UNAM (México)

Asociación Civil Clemente Padín (Uruguay) 

Archivo Graciela Carnevale (Argentina)

Archivo Elena Lucca (Argentina)

Archivo memorias de la resistencia, Centro Cultural Tallersol (Chile) 

Archivo Guillermo Nuñez (Chile)

Archivo fotográfico Kena Lorenzini (Chile)

Museo de la Memoria  y los Derechos Humanos (Chile)

Memoria Abierta (Argentina)

Proyecto Juan Acha (México) (Brasil)

Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (El Salvador)

Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes Juan B. Castagnino (Museo Castagnino + Macro, Rosario, Argentina)

Centro de Arte Experimental Vigo (Argentina)

Archivo Luz Donoso (Chile) 

Archivo Guillermo Deisler (Chile) 

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Montevideo (Uruguay)

Museo de Arte Moderno Chiloé (Chile)

Archivo Central Andrés Bello de la Universidad de Chile (Chile)

Maestría Museología y Gestión del Patrimonio de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Colombia)

CRAC, Valparaíso (Chile)

Departamento Teoría de las Artes Universidad de Chile (Chile)

Núcleo de Estudios y Documentación de la Imagen, Instituto de Investigaciones Geohistóricas Universidad Nacional del Nordeste (Argentina)

Biblioteca de la Facultad de Bellas Artes de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (España)

Archivo histórico de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (España) 

Biblioteca General de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (España)

Sociedad Española de Documentación e Información Científica SEDIOC (España)

Archivo José Carlos Mariátegui (Perú)

Alta Tecnología Andina – ATA (Perú)

Magíster Arte, Pensamiento y Cultura Latinoamericana de la USACH (Chile)

Archivo Yeguas del Apocalipsis (Chile) 

Archivo Memorias Subterráneas (Argentina)

Revista Archivoz (España)

Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen (El Salvador)

WET Labs (México)

Anarchivo Sida (España/ Chile)

La Virreina Centre de la Image de Barcelona(España)

Londres 38 (Chile)

Centro de Arte de la Universidad Nacional de La Plata (Argentina) 

Archivo ArteFacto, Managua (Nicaragua)

We think this call relationally, as something open and binding. In effect, this call names itself as an incomplete or even to be completed code of good practice. An open source that knows that its fragility, its holes, can be its strength. That is why we want this call to be reviewed, discussed and reworked in different countries and cities to continue deepening its transregional power from local experiences and perspectives. And that way I can contribute to create a community of care of art / political archives.

To adhere to the appeal:

RedCSur action at the Walden Gallery stand within ARCO (Madrid) condemning the abroad sale of Romero’s Archive, February 27th, 2019.

We denounce that the Juan Carlos Romero Artists Archive, collected throughout his life by the Argentine artist Juan Carlos Romero (1931-2017), was sold to a private collector in the United States through the gallerist Ricardo Ocampo managment (Walden Gallery).
The archive brings together an immense and significant heritage not only relevant to Argentine and Latin American art history, but also for the country’s political, labor union and cultural history. Since 2011 we worked together with Romero in the institutionalization of his archive, with the commitment that it would not be disintegrated and that it would be accessible in Argentina, as he always defended.
In 2014, the Juan Carlos Romero Artists Archive nonprofit organization was created to protect, preserve and activate this common heritage.
The abroad sale of the archive privatizes and subtracts it from public access, relocating it and with the concrete risk of its dispersion.
The RedCSur calls on the international artistic community to prevent the privatization of the Juan Carlos Romero Artists Archive and to claim its constitution as a public archive in Argentina.

Sign the petition in the following form:

Suite à la vente des Archives d’artistes de Juan Carlos Romero

Gráfica de Lucía Bianchi y Silvana Castro enero 2018.

Communiqué de la Red Conceptualismos del Sur*

*Réseau Conceptualismes du Sud

Aujourd’hui, alors que commence l’année 2019, nous souhaiterions exprimer nos plus vives inquiétudes suite à la nouvelle de la vente des archives de l’artiste Juan Carlos Romero (1931-2017) à une collection privée d’art latino-américain à New York, décidée par ses héritiers (la veuve et les enfants de Romero) par l’intermédiaire du galeriste Ricardo Ocampo. Cette vente implique que les archives seront désormais privatisées, fermées, soustraites à l’accès public et délocalisées du lieu où elles avaient été constituées, à la faveur de la passion obstinée, lucide et persistante de Juan Carlos Romero, qui tout au long de sa vie a défendu la condition publique et accessible de ses archives. Dans un contexte où les politiques de préservation, de soin et de valorisation de la documentation artistique et politique se trouvent dans une grande précarité, laissées à l’abandon et dans la plus grande indifférence, ce fonds d’archives extraordinaire et d’une grande valeur est beaucoup plus que le fonds d’un artiste et de son œuvre. C’est une collection unique, réalisée grâce à une grande générosité réunissant de nombreux enregistrements des pratiques artistico-politiques et de la culture matérielle d’une partie importante du XXe siècle en Argentine et en Amérique latine. Les archives de Juan Carlos sont extrêmement pertinentes non seulement pour l’histoire de l’art argentin, mais aussi pour l’histoire politique, syndicale, culturelle de ce pays. Il comprend des fonds documentaires comme la collection des affiches politiques argentines et latino-américaines, le fonds sur le Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAYC), sur des aspects de la culture populaire (le mate, le tango, la mort), ou encore des tracts syndicaux, lesquels excèdent largement le domaine de l’art.

Dans un pays comme l’Argentine, traversé par une crise économique de la dette féroce, due à l’évasion des capitaux et à la spoliation généralisée, nous condamnons la fuite des biens communs et des capitaux symboliques. Nous travaillons à ce que la gestion du capital économique, aussi bien que culturel, affectif, politique, défasse la codification entre le public et le privé, afin de reconfigurer de manière située une politique du commun. Aujourd’hui, les formes de thésaurisation et d’accumulation ne se réduisent pas à celles des grandes institutions du nord global qui cherchent à enrichir leur patrimoine de manière coloniale. Elles comprennent aussi celles de mercenaires dont le but est de trouver les moyens de faire fructifier ce patrimoine, dont le radar est la spéculation économique et symbolique, boussole moins prévisible et plus difficile à suivre et à contrôler.

En tant que Red Conceptualismos del Sur, nous avons travaillé de manière engagée auprès de Juan Carlos Romero, pendant des années, pour que les Archives Juan Carlos Romero soient accessibles au public et qu’elles acquièrent un statut institutionnel à travers la création d’une Association civile, et nous savons que sa volonté expresse était que ses archives ne soient pas dispersées mais organisées en un fonds en accès libre basé en Argentine. Les archives Juan Carlos Romero ont constitué un projet prioritaire au sein de la politique des archives impulsé en divers endroits d’Amérique latine par la RedCSur, telles que les archives de Clemente Padín à Montevideo, ou les archives du groupe CADA à Santiago du Chili, pour ne citer que deux exemples. Cette alliance remonte à la deuxième Rencontre de la RedCSur (au Centro Cultural Parque de España, Rosario, octobre 2008), lorsque Juan Carlos Romero fut invité à présenter ses archives. Elle se constitue formellement en 2011, quand la RedCSur commence à travailler à la constitution d’une Association Civile pour poser les bases de ce fonds, et qu’elle a inventorié et déménagé objets et documents vers le lieu que Juan Carlos Romero avait choisi lui-même à cette fin. Menant à bien un travail d’expérimentation institutionnel, la proposition a été de créer une alliance de travail avec d’autres institutions, telles que le Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS) et l’Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (UNTREF), lesquelles ont rejoint le projet en 2014, quand a été élaboré une convention de collaboration tripartite (entre l’Associación Civil Juan Carlos Romero Archivo de Artistas, la Red Conceptualismos del Sur, le MNCARS et la UNTREF). Le but de cette convention était de créer une initiative commune qui permettre de mettre en place un cadre de protection, de préservation et d’activation de ce fonds d’archives sur la base d’un accord éthique: la défense de l’intégrité de l’archive, sa condition publique et accessible, sa localisation là où ont eu lieu les pratiques dont elle rend compte. En 2014, le siège de l’Associación Civil Juan Carlos Romero Archivo de Artistas a été inauguré au 443 de la rue Santiago del Estero dans la ville de Buenos Aires, afin d’accueillir le fonds et d’ouvrir un espace de consultation et de recherche. Contrairement à d’autres initiatives d’archives initiées par la RedCSur, les archives Romero disposaient de leur propre espace, ce qui a empêché leur absorption ou leur soumission à la logique de fonctionnement des institutions impliquées dans le projet (ainsi qu’à leurs propres critères de classement, d’inventaire et de traitement des matériaux, entre autres), et que ces dernières respectent les logiques émanant des archives elles-mêmes. Cela a fait des Archives Romero une expérience unique ouvrant la possibilité d’engager de nouveaux projets plus autonomes institutionnellement, et a conduit à proposer à d’autres artistes d’y déposer leurs archives, un pari énoncé dans le nom même de l’Association Civil Juan Carlos Romero, présentées comme des “Archives d’Artistes”. Durant ces années-là, la RedCSur a travaillé au classement et à la mise en accès de plusieurs parties des Archives Romero, notamment de sa Colección de Gráfica Política (collection d’arts graphiques politiques) (comprenant plus de 2000 affiches et accessible en ligne: et d’une partie de ses archives personnelles.

Nous lançons un appel à la communauté artistique et culturelle, aux différentes initiatives d’archives, aux institutions artistiques ainsi qu’aux universités, à la société civile, afin qu’elles prennent position et refusent la vente et la privatisation des Archives Juan Carlos Romero, vu que ce patrimoine public d’une très grande valeur reviendrait alors à des particuliers, délocalisé, assujetti à une logique de “collection d’art” encourant la dispersion et l’inaccessibilité.

Nous demandons instamment aux responsables de la vente des Archives Juan Carlos Romero que soient rendues publiques les conditions de la vente de ce fonds, dont il n’existe aucun inventaire complet à ce jour. Les archives ont été enlevées de la maison de la rue Santiago del Estero où elles se trouvaient. Nous devons savoir où elles se trouvent, dans quel état de conservation, si elles ont été conservées de manière indivisible tel que cela avait été établit par l’Associación Civil qui les a conservées ces dernières années.

Nous appelons l’État Argentin à ce qu’il intervienne à travers les ressources qu’offre la protection du patrimoine culturel, afin que soit assuré le maintien des archives dans le pays. Nous lançons également un appel aux institutions et aux archives publiques qui ont lutté sur le terrain de la mémoire et de la culture des différentes gauches, au-delà des gouvernements au pouvoir, afin de produire les conditions institutionnelles indispensables à ce que ces Archives soient accueillies et soient constituées en tant que fonds public.

Nous proposons que les Archives Juan Carlos Romero soient déclarées en tant que patrimoine culturel compte tenu de leur grande valeur documentaire concernant la vie politique et artistique au XXe siècle en Argentine aussi bien qu’en Amérique latine. De même, en tant que RedCSsur, nous nous engageons à collaborer activement à:

  1. Poursuivre la mise en œuvre du classement/digitalisation des parties d’archives ainsi que leur socialisation  à travers le site web archivos en uso.
  2. Trouver les fonds afin de soutenir les projets sur ces archives le temps que leur institutionnalisation soit garantie en Argentine.
  3. Relancer les activités de l’Association Civil “Archivo de Artistas Juan Carlos Romero” afin d’accompagner et de veilleur à l’inaliénabilité de ce fonds d’archives, à sa préservation et sa socialisation, tout en œuvrant à son inscription locale.

Pour adhérer à la déclaration:

Regarding the alarming news about the sale abroad of the archive of the Artists’ Archive Juan Carlos Romero

Gráfica de Lucía Bianchi y Silvana Castro enero 2018.

At the beginning of January 2019, we became aware of the alarming news that the Archive of the artist Juan Carlos Romero (1931-2017) has been sold to a private collection of Latin American Art located in New York, by decision of his heirs (the widow and the descendents of Romero) and through arrangements made by the gallery owner Ricardo Ocampo.

This means that the archive will be privatized, closed down, deprived from public access and delocalised from the place where it was established, by the stubborn, lucid, persistent passion of Juan Carlos Romero, who throughout his life defended the public and open condition of his archive.

In a context in which the policies of preservation, care and appreciation of artistic and political documentation are in conditions of precariousness, abandonment and disinvestment, this huge and invaluable collection is much more than the personal archive of an artist and his work, is a generous and unparalleled registryfile of the artistic and political practices and the material culture of an important moment of the twentieth century in Argentina and Latin America.

The archive of Juan Carlos Romero is tremendously relevant not only for the history of Argentinian art, but also for the country’s political, labor union and cultural history. It includes documentary collections such as: the collection of Argentine and Latin American political posters, the CAYC fund, diverse aspects of popular culture (mate, tango, death), or the fund of labor union pamphlets, which far exceed the limits of art.

In a country like Argentina,  going through a fierce economic crisis based on indebtedness, capital evasion and generalized spoliation, we repudiate the leakage of common goods and symbolic capitals. We seek that the management of economic cultural, affective and political capital,  dismantle the codification between the public and the private to configure in situ, a politics of the common.

Nowadays, the forms of hoarding and accumulation are not only those of the great institutions of the global north that seek to enrich their heritage colonially. But also those of mercenaries whose purpose is to find a  return to these collections, because their radar is the economic and symbolic speculation, a compass less predictable, more difficult to track and verify.

From the RedCSur (Network of Southern Conceptualisms) we have been working for years with Juan Carlos Romero, in the public access and institutionalization of the Juan Carlos Romero Archive through the constitution of a nonprofit organization, and we know that his express wish was that his Archive will not disintegrate but will become an open access collection located in Argentina.

Thus, the Juan Carlos Romero Archive was a priority project within the archives policy that RedCSur has been promoting in various parts of Latin America, such as the Clemente Padín archive in Montevideo or the CADA archive in Santiago de Chile, to mention two examples.

This alliance goes back to the RedCSur Second Meeting of (Spanish Park Cultural Center, Rosario, October 2008), when Juan Carlos Romero was invited to present his archive and it was formalized in 2011, when RedCSur began formally working on the constitution of the nonprofit organization that laid the foundations of the archive, and in the inventory and moving of objects and documents to the space that Juan Carlos himself assigned to that end.

Continuing with a work of institutional experimentation, the proposal was to create a common working alliance with other institutions, such as the Museo Reina Sofía and the National University of Tres de Febrero, which were integrated into the project when in 2014 it was formalized a quadripartite collaboration agreement (between the  nonprofit organization Juan Carlos Romero Artists Archive, the RedCSur , the MNCARS and the UNTREF), in order to create a joint initiative that would allow the promotion of a framework for safeguarding, preserving and activating the archive based on an ethical agreement: the defense of the integrity of the archive, its public and accessible condition, its location in the context where it’s practices occurred.

In 2014, the principal space of the Juan Carlos Romero Artists Archive nonprofit organization  was opened in Santiago del Estero 443, City of Buenos Aires, to house the archive and become a space for consultation and research. Unlike other archives initiatives promoted by the RedCSur, the Romero Archive had its own space, which made possible it’s independence from the different institutions involved in the project (allowing an own particular criteria of cataloging, inventory and systematization of the material, among other issues).

This opened the possibility for the Romero Archive to be considered as a unique experience,  to try out projects with greater institutional autonomy and it was proposed to host other artists archives in its space. This characteristic was even present in the name itself as the nonprofit organization Juan Carlos Romero, which is presented as an «Artists Archive». During these years, RedCSur also worked on the cataloging and open access to different areas of the Romero Archive, including the Political Graphic Collection (composed of more than 2000 posters and available at: and part of his personal archive.

We call upon the artistic and cultural community, the different archive initiatives, the artistic institutions and universities, the civil society, to pronounce themselves and repudiate the sale and privatization of the Juan Carlos Romero Archive, because this valuable public patrimony remains in private hands, delocalised, inscribed in the logic of an «art collection» and subject to dispersion and inaccessibility.

We demand that those responsible for the sale of the Juan Carlos Romero Archive make public the conditions of sale of a collection from which, to date, there is no complete inventory. The file was removed from the house in Santiago del Estero where he was based. We need to know where it is located, what is its current state of preservation, if it has been maintained as an indivisible archive, as established by the nonprofit organization that protected it during the last years.

We appeal for the intervention of the Argentine State through the protection of cultural heritage, to ensure that the archive remains in the country. At the same time, we call upon institutions and public archives that are disputing the memory and the left wing culture, beyond the nowadays governments, to generate conditions of institutionality that allow the archive to be accepted and to claim their constitution as a public heritage.

We propose that the Juan Carlos Romero Archive be declared a cultural heritage, considering its important documentary value in relation to the political and artistic processes of the 20th century in Argentina and Latin America. Likewise, we commit ourselves from the RedCSur to collaborate actively in:

  1. Continue the processes of cataloging / digitalizing areas of the archive and to work on its public access through the website archivos en uso.
  2. Manage funds to sustain projects for the archive until it’s institutionalization in Argentina is achieved.
  3. To re-launch the nonprofit organization «Artists Archive Juan Carlos Romero» to accompany and ensure the inalienability of the archive, its preservation and socialization, promoting its local registration.

For adherences:

They Are Afraid of Us

5 (1)

Photograph: Gala Abramovich / march for Legal, Safe and Free Abortion / 8A, Buenos Aires

Veronica Gago


The contempt implied by the Argentine Senate’s rejection of the bill to legalize abortion rewrites – and makes us remember – a scene that we know well: the domestic scene, where all our effort seems to become invisible, almost as if it didn’t exist, as if it didn’t count. Thus the Parliament sought to repeat what, for centuries, the patriarchy has wanted us to get used to: an act of disdain to discredit us. Where our power does not enter into the account, where it does not count. But, this time, due to the unfolding of the feminist movement we cannot go back to that scene of submission and invisibilization ever again. Our fury comes from the certainty that there is no going back and that the power we have gained cannot be reversed. Based on that certainty, we also say that we will never return to a condition of clandestinity.

The contempt was overwhelming. It was targeted at the feminist multitude that overflowed the city: the massive, effervescent, popular, diverse, intergenerational mobilization that lasted for hours despite the wind and rain (there were 110 buses from Rosario alone!). We cannot deny that it felt like a mockery, an insult, a brutal attempt to discipline us. That is another reason for our fury.

Gala Abramovich (6)

Photograph: Gala Abramovich / march for Legal, Safe and Free Abortion / 8A, Buenos Aires

The Senate’s rejection follows the same pattern of historically ignoring what is created by our labor, the ways in which we produce value, all the work that we do so that world is produced and reproduced, and our ways of weaving sociability and collective care, which have been systematically not counted in the accounts of any democracy. Because we are well aware of this method of humiliating and ignoring us and since in opposition to that we have created the common cry saying “now that they see us,” we will not allow them to make us invisible again. As we repeat that shout with conviction, our fury erupts  from our throats too. This invisibilization – that is a specific regime of visibility – is created by expropriating the very power [potencia] of our bodies while they “exploit” make a profit from, representing us. The senators continue to speak in our name, to legislate about our desires and our experiences of maternity, while they ignore the nearly two million bodies surrounding the Congress that continue to make themselves seen and heard. Our fury also arises from this attempt to continue controlling our vital decisions with the force of the elite’s power.

In this sense, August 8 depicts with historical clarity a power that is already inverted. There is no compliance to that contempt. There is no submission to that invisibility. There is no resignation to not being counted. There is no accommodation to, once again, not being included in democracy, or only being included as the infantilized part, under guardianship. The power in the streets that took over the cities on August 8 is the political power of bodies that are not infantilized and not domesticated.

This has a spatial dimension as well: we have already left the domestic enclosure. We built other domestic territories that do not force us to do unrecognized free labor or require us to promise fidelity to a husband-owner. We took over the street and we made it into a feminist house. On August 8, they were the ones who were enclosed, while we took over the city. Why is this an inversion that makes history? Confinement – the preferred alibi of domestic enclosure – remained on their side.

The senators were locked up, guarded by barricades, announcing that the vote needed to be sped up so as not to delay police repression. In other words, they issued a warning that their vote was expecting and relying on the backing of state repression in an attempt to discipline popular anger. Outside, the space of the political was reorganized and reinvented under the open sky by a tide that will be unforgettable to all of us who were there. The stronghold of the Senate – ancient and decadent – was a counterpoint to the encampment formed by those open houses and shacks, experiments in another form of domesticity, other types of care. This spatial inversion marks a new type of political cartography. It dismantles the traditional binary between the house as the enclosed space and the public as its opposite: we are building houses open to the street, to the neighborhood, to community networks, and a roof and walls that provide refuge and shelter without enclosing. This is a practical balance that emerges from the concrete reality: many homes, understood in a patriarchal sense, have turned into a hell; they are the most unsafe places, where the majority of femicides occur, along with innumerable other everyday and “domestic” forms of violence.

With this new form of doing politics it is even almost unnecessary to chant that they don’t represent us or to create a feminist version of “they all must go!” We have already passed that threshold. It became clear that the regime of representation that sustains itself turning its back to the streets has nothing to do with the feminist way of doing politics and making history. But even more, it was shown that politics is already being carried out in other territories, that have the force to produce a non-patriarchal domestic space.

Gala Abramovich (3)

Photograph: Gala Abramovich / march for Legal, Safe and Free Abortion / 8A, Buenos Aires

I’ll go back to our fury. We felt nausea, disgust, repugnance upon listening to the ignorance and violence of some of the senators’ words. The claim that there can be rape without violence when it happens within the family, as Rodolfo Urtubey (PJ-Salta) said, is again a symptom of what I am trying to argue: that, even in Parliament, we are talking about a domestic scene. That what was happening in the Senate – supposedly the space of the public sphere – is neither more nor less than the desperate attempt to maintain the home as the patriarchal reign in opposition to the emergence of a politics that creates other forms and dismantles the division between the public and the private that creates hierarchies between spaces.

What does this mean? That Senator Urtubey (whose immediate resignation we must demand) explicitly and openly stated that the home, in the patriarchal sense, is the place where rape is allowed. The household is constituted as “private” when it legitimizes men’s violent and privileged access to women’s and feminized bodies (which includes children of all genders). Here the private is what legitimizes (what the senator calls the “non-violence”) the violence and guarantees that it remains a secret. It is also what enables the famous “double moral.” Here we are in the heart of what organizes, as Carole Pateman showed in a pioneering way, the patriarchal contract: a commitment to complicity between men based on that hierarchy, which is turned into a form of political right in our democracies.

In the patriarchal contract there is a sexual division of bodies: the masculine body is presented as the rational and abstract body, but it claims to be capable of gestating. What does it gestate? Order and a discourse to legitimize its superiority and expropriate the sovereignty over gestation from women’s bodies. What there is, then, is a dispute over the power of gestation, because the patriarchal political order is founded on that expropriation. That expropriation implies a specific form of subordination and is translated into power within the home: the power to violate the feminine or feminized body as the structure of the patriarchal order. This is the pact that the senators ratified in the early hours of August 9th and that functions as the cornerstone of all their privileges. It sanctioned masculine power over women’s bodies, the foundational scene of which, I insist, is rape.

The Theological Scene

But the parliamentary scene takes us directly to another scene. The negative vote confirms the Parliament as a space submitted to theological power: it was the Catholic Church’s theater to reaffirm its declining power. Senator Pedro Guastavino (Justicialist Block – Entre Rios) explained it in colloquial terms: the senators who spoke in favor of abortion did so “dodging crucifixes,” threatening phone calls and other messages from the mafia that calls itself “heavenly”. With the referendum in Ireland, with the mobilizations in Poland and the feminist tide in Argentina, the Apostolic and Roman Catholic Church – to which we dedicated various chants – feels under attack in countries that had been emblems of loyalty to it.

Today there is a distinctive feature about Argentina: it is the land of the current Pope. The Church’s political operations in opposition to feminism, headed by the figure of Bergoglio, attempt to divide social organizations and ignore the force of a movement that is being built from below, that is popular and anti-neoliberal. I have already discussed the type of conflict over political spirituality that the church – the Catholic Church and other types of religious fundamentalism – feels, as never before, with the current feminist movement in regards to the vote in the Chambers of Deputies.

After our victory in the lower chamber, the Church intensified its counter-offensive. In various places, the homilies in the patriotic festivities of July 9th (Independence Day) were declarations of war: thus, from above, they legitimized the attacks on the streets against girls only for wearing the green bandana, they gave impetus to fundamentalist groups that attacked feminist activists (like in Mendoza) and they drove the indoctrination of teenagers in confessional schools (we must remember the march of teenagers with blue handkerchiefs forced to do the military step in Santiago del Estero).

It is an intense chapter of the campaign against what they have called “gender ideology”, which takes specific forms in each Latin American country. This concept allows the church to identify feminism as its new enemy. The protests in Peru and Ecuador saying “don’t mess with my children” are part of this campaign. In Brazil, “gender ideology” is invoked as a threat to the family and as a promise of homosexuality by several types of fundamentalism (it was also mentioned last week in the first “anti-feminist” conference). In Colombia, it played a role in the campaign that mobilized the “gender threat” in support of the triumph of the “no” to the Havana peace agreement. In Chile, it is used by neo-Nazi groups against the feminist revolts . In Argentina, it has driven the offensive against the Law for Comprehensive Sexual Education and abortion.

Gala Abramovich (4)

Photograph: Gala Abramovich / march for Legal, Safe and Free Abortion / 8A, Buenos Airess

Here again the debate’s intensity had a particular feature: it focused on the argument that “poor women don’t have abortions,” that abortion is “imperialist” or a “fad” imposed by the IMF. The battle intensified in the tutelage practiced by the Catholic Church, especially over poor women, led by the discourse of the so called “shantytown priests.” The interesting thing about the debate during these weeks was the enormous number of women from shantytowns and popular neighborhoods speaking out and sharing their experiences of having clandestine abortions. This was a political leap in the discussion in relation to previous years, since the mass debate took place in class-based terms, demonstrating that there is a differentiated price to the criminalization of abortion. That is, the transversality of the feminist politicization allowed for expanding it into spaces and sites where it had not reached previously even if abortions were a massive reality. The leaders of several social movements attempted to discipline the women from those groups, advocating in favor of putting a limit to the green wave in response to the Vatican’s requests.

The number of women from popular neighborhoods who populated the tents that filled the ten blocks around the Congress discussing these questions speaks of the failure of that internal disciplining. It speaks of the force of saying that we will not go back to having abortions in secret, even if the Pope dares to associate abortion with Nazism. But, above all, it speaks of a push by the youngest pibas to raise the issues, to their mothers and within their families, of an interpellation, a discussion, and a way of practicing sexuality that makes the patriarchal contract, which is also the ecclesial pact, tremble. This had a snowball effect that expanded into another discussion: the definitive separation of the Church from the State, which was convincingly performed by the boxes full of apostasy forms filled out in the middle of the encampment. It is not a coincidence that the Church’s reaction is so virulent at the same time as cases are continuously being uncovered of pedophile priests, sexual abuse against nuns, and public testimonies of children not recognized by their father-priests. Again, we return to the rape scene: it is this that is again and again being defended as the “private” and “sacred” space of the powers that maintain the patriarchal-ecclesial pact.

The Global Scene

The scene of the fight for abortion took place in Argentina, but it was already on a global stage. The repercussion and the weaving of resonances across Latin America and the world was a powerful feature of the campaign for the right to abortion. Cities around the world were painted green. Protesting in front of embassies, gathering in plazas, making green handkerchiefs in other places, occupying universities and schools were ways of performing a new type of internationalism.

Fotografía de Gala Abramovich, marcha por el Aborto legal seguro y gratuito, 8A, Buenos Aires

Photograph: Gala Abramovich / march for Legal, Safe and Free Abortion / 8A, Buenos Aires

The feminist strikes (October 19, 2016 and March 8, 2017 and 2018) nourished the feminist movement’s internationalist dynamic, which translates into coordination, swarming initiatives, exchanges of political lexicons, articulation of a common agenda, and a strength that is concretely experienced in diverse conflicts. Feminism as a new internationalism is producing a new type of proximity among struggles.

What was at stake in the vote in the Argentine Senate also demonstrates the strength of a scene that, as the back cover of the New York Times said, “the whole world is watching.” Today the conservative Catholic triumph appears in the news, but even so it does not manage to outplay the photos seen around the world: a green tide on the streets, endless lights in the middle of a winter night, a river of desire for disobedience.

This time the pressure of the political lobby in favor of the patriarchal-ecclesial pact maintaining its power over women’s autonomy and decision-making in regards to their maternity and desire has prevailed. However, the earthquaker of the feminist revolution leaves no room unmoved. In the street abortion is already the law. Our victory is here and now and in the long term. We are making history. They are afraid of us. The Senate’s contempt will not come without a price. We are full of fury and euphoria. We don’t have hope, we have strength.

— Translated by Liz-Mason Deese


Verónica Gago is part of Colectivo Ni una Menos and Colectivo Situaciones, teaches in the School of Social Sciences at Buenos Aires University, and is an assistant researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET). She is currently working on a project exploring popular economies in post-neoliberal contexts.

Gala Abramovich is a photographer, lesbian, electrician and radio producer. She was born in CABA and today lives in La Matanza. To see more about her work:

Our murmur will be deafening: free abortion now!

Fotografía: Gala Abramovich / marcha por el Aborto legal seguro y gratuito / 8A, Buenos Aires

On August 8th, 2018, the Argentine Senate rejected the bill of voluntary interruption of pregnancy. 38 senators (against 31) opposed to legal, safe and free abortion, which already had a half sanction from the Chamber of Deputies. 38 senators, and through them, the Argentine State, opposed to accept the decision of each person and each woman about her body and about her life; they opposed to guarantee dignified conditions for that decision, they opposed to protect each person and each woman that they represent. In this way they ratified the direct responsibility of the State in the deaths and sufferings that entails the illegality and the precariousness imposed; they ratified a state policy of inequality and marginalization; they ratified an exclusive and exclusive State; they ratified a dependent State, dependent on religious beliefs, dependent on ecclesiastical leaders; they ratified an archaic State; they ratified a patriarchal and macho state; They ratified a State that we do not want, a State that we do not constitute and that does not constitute us.

Many of the speeches that preceded the voting revealed no longer ideological differences or differences in the conceptions of state policy that can be debated within the framework of a Senate. They reveal above all a representational body characterized by foolishness, ignorance, denial and, worse still, characterized by confessional criteria of a minority: the one of religious fundamentalism that spreads and worryingly extends its political and economic power in the region.

The voting day of the bill IVE in the Argentine Senate showed an abysmal gap between two bodies: the representational body within the precinct and the political body outside it, that of the struggles and forces that pre- and post-August 8th and exceeding national limits.

Being part of these forces, the RedCSur, opens here a space of visibility for testimonies and contributions from different parts of the continent, to continue thinking and affirming the struggles for abortion and the irreversible advance of its social decriminalization, because the failure was not only a failure for Argentina, but a message for the entire region.

We added an intervention in the parliamentary debate in Argentina by the sociologist Nayla Vacarezza, who has also specialized in intersections between art and activism for the right to abortion. The text «Escuchen el murmullo de esta revolución» raises the need to make intelligible the different and heterodox ways of feeling about abortion that until recently lacked public expression, and seeks to denaturalize the codification of abortion as an exclusively traumatic experience. The text is accompanied by the image of the feminist wave by Mela Rebalsa collective.

We also include the text «They Are Afraid of Us» by Verónica Gago, written from the pulse of the massive protest march on August 8 in Buenos Aires. The text revives the historic day showing how the feminist force in the streets made tremble the hierarchy between the public (as a male space of deliberation and political action) and the private (as female domestic confinement) that protects the patriarchal order, disrupting politic cartographies and leaving in evidence the symptoms of a senatorial speech that saw its pacts and privileges threatened. An essential text to replicate the political force of a movement that does not yield to a deaf political class that turns its back on the street, a movement that came to stay. The text is accompanied by images of the Argentine photographer Gala Abramovich.

From the Chilean context, where in the last march of July 25, three women were stabbed and anti-abortion groups deployed a canvas asking for the sterilization of women and spilling animal blood on public roads, we included the text «El momento del aborto libre«, by Karen Glavic. This text points out different temporalities of the fight for abortion and proposes to think about the claim for free abortion as a chance to run the fence of the possible that has delimited the political during the neoliberal post-dictatorship in Chile, by betting on «a project of demercantilización of the society, that also can be a recovery of the bodies that never is totally individual «, as it asks the liberal policy.

We share the text «La polémica en torno al aborto y el derecho a la salud en México» by the Mexican researchers, Lucía Melgar and Susana Lerner, who critically review the discussion for the legalization of abortion in Mexico, systematizing the framework of pro-rights and anti-rights proposals. As a starting point of their analyses they take the case of Martha Patricia Martínez, who in 2016 was convicted of having had an abortion spontaneous in the city of Veracruz, which is reiterated in the debates that go through many of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. The text is accompanied by a series of images of mobilizations for the abortion during the eighties and images of current demostrations by Monica Meyer and Maris Bustamante.

#8A Fight for the right to abortion in Argentina

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On March 6, 2018, in Argentina, the bill for the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy proposed by the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion took concrete shape for the first time, promulgated for 13 years in the framework of a struggle that has lasted more than three decades. A historical, heterogeneous and vigorous movement of women, lesbians, trans-people and anti-patriarchal men, has taken the streets in an immense green wave to make their claim visible, achieving today an unprecedented political transversality, bottom-up, with great protagonism of the younger generations. This movement is strengthened in an Argentina that is today under a government of the right wing that applies neoliberal policies precarizing the lives of the most vulnerable sectors of the population, especially those of women. After months of discussion (15 days, 724 expositions during deputies commissions) the project presented – which decriminalizes abortion in the 14th week, opposes the objection of conscience of health institutions and promotes the public production of misoprostol – had a half sanction in the Chamber of Deputies. For it to become law, the half-sanction of the Upper Chamber is still lacking, where the parliamentary debate reached high levels of controversy between those who support the law and the conservative positions, opposed to all scientific evidence and to the paradigm of rights enshrined by the international organizations of some of the exposed arguments.


RedCSur: recent interviews and articles

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RedCSur has taken part on a series of interviews and articles in different virtual platforms and printed publications, invitations that have served to shape areas of our practice and reflection of recent years. Eszter Szakacs, a member of the tranzit-Hungary platform, proposed a stimulating dialogue in the interview «Political Exercise and Political Action through the Network. Interview with Fernanda Carvajal and Mabel Tapia from Red Conceptualismos del Sur », published in the issue Propositions for a Pan-Peripheral Network of the magazine : -network /

In different ways we started to create links with networks and projects in Eastern Europe, something that RedCSur has been developing for some time. Along with these collaborations, the Polish magazine Obieg dedicated its last issue to experiences in Latin America under the title «Biocentrism versus Geophagy». This issue takes the relationship with nature, strained between development models based on extractivism and the production of common and good living, to initiate a reflection between the countries of East and Latin America. The Network is present with the text «Grasping the Inappropriable. Disputes Over Use Value of Archives» (« To touch the inappropriable, Disputes over the use value of the archives » presented initially in the meeting Archives of the common II) and the text of Paulina Varas,« A social and aesthetic micro-practice from Valparaíso », Available at:

An interview will soon be published in the paper edition of the Neural magazine (, directed by Allessandro Ludovico.

The collective text «Archives in use. A Laboratory of Political Imagination for the Present » in the book The Constituent Museum. Publication of L’Internationale and Valiz, edited by John Byrne, Elinor Morgan, November Paynter, Aida Sanchez de Serdio and Adela Zeleznik, as a result of the seminar held in Middlesbrough in September 2016.

Archives of the Common II The Anomic Archive

Parte posterior de un sobre enviado por Artpool en 2006.Los sellos de goma usados fueron hechos por György Galántai en 1995 (Cortesía de Artpool Art Research Center)

The role the archive plays in contemporary culture, by virtue of its powerful metaphorical potential and as a tool of knowledge and resistance, has been broadly explored in many exhibitions, publications and encounters over the past two decades. For instance, to name but a few, shows such as Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art (Okwui Enwezor, International Center of Photography, New York, 2008), or international encounters such as Speak, Memory: On Archives and other Strategies of (Re)activation of Cultural Memory (Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, 2010), Radical Archives (New York University, New York, 2014) and, in closer proximity, Archives of the Common (Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2015).

Against these backdrops, the analysis of the archive has occurred from a dual perspective. The first, after acknowledging the “archive shift” at the end of the 1990s, highlights the use of archive by artists as a source of primary information, as well as a device of formal structuring. The second involves artists’ and historians’ renewed interest in the archive, granting visibility and relevance to problems which, to some degree, affect a space bound to the exercise of power, surveillance and the imposition of norms to conserve substantial heritage of memory, experience and collective identities.

With the aim of moving this debate forward by formulating conditions for a genuinely alternative and radical practice with respect to the creation, access and management of archives, Archives of the Common II. The Anomic Archive seeks to lay out a space of reflection with which to share the survival strategies and work and consolidation methodologies being implemented by different people, collectives and institutions in different settings. Therefore, Archives of the Common II, the continuation of the encounter held at the end of 2015 in the Museo, coorganized by Museo Reina Sofía and RedCSur collects and expands upon the first edition to collectively consider and multiply, from potential modes of doing, the common uses of archive