The video shows a metal meshwork object adorned with pink ribbons (“laços” in Portuguese, the same word for “lasso”) and enclosing fragments of a ceramic museum doll – a hand, a face, a foot – giving the impression of a broken body trapped in a cage and reinforcing the sense of trauma. The video’s soundtrack is a discordant jumble of excerpts from a 2021 debate in the House of Representatives on Bill 490 (which proposed new restrictions on the demarcation of Indigenous lands). On the soundtrack, we hear how Joênia Wapichana, the only Indigenous congresswoman in Brazil’s history, is aggressively and dismissively questioned during the session. Naine concludes that the video “gives a sense of the structural racism and gender violence naturalised in the terms, popular sayings and attitudes rooted in the national imagination, which end up reinforcing hostility to Indigenous peoples”.
The Argentinian art collective, Identidad Marrón, contributed prolific material to the exhibition. Their project is to visibilise and make space for the people they call “marrón”, which literally means chestnut-coloured, but here means people who do not identify straightforwardly as “Indigenous”, “Black” or “Afro-Argentinian” but who are descendants of Indigenous people and may also be, or be descendants of, campesinos (subsistence farmers) or immigrants from neighbouring Andean countries. In Argentina, these people are often called by the generic term “negros”, especially by middle class people. This category is refigured here as “marrón” (which is distinct from other more familiar terms for brown in Latin America, such as pardo or moreno, which are rooted in colonial histories). In this sense, the term Marrón is a political proposal that is part of a wider decolonial project that seeks to get away from and challenge the structures and frameworks of coloniality.
A key goal of Identidad Marrón – shared by Indigenous Brazilian and Afro-Colombian artists – is to challenge invisibilisation. This takes on specific nuances in Argentina. In Brazil and Colombia, the figures of the “indio” and the “negro” have often been visible in art and literature but in exoticised and stereotypical ways. In Argentina, the dominant image of the nation as essentially white has practically erased the historical and present-day existence of Indigenous and Black people and their descendants. Identidad Marrón’s work visibilises the history of Marrón people, makes evident the discrimination and violence they experience, and makes spaces for them in the public imagination and institutional spaces of the nation.
For the exhibition, Identidad Marrón produced a video called Traspasar Las Puertas de Cristal del Museo, which is about reclaiming the museum as an institutional space open to Marrón people and as a space to address racialised difference and racism. It is set in the Museo de la Cárcova, a Buenos Aires museum founded in 1928 that houses reproductions of famous European sculptures. The video starts with trans actress and activist Daniela Ruiz telling a visitor that she is there to remind people of the foundational genocide that created “white” Argentina. In a subsequent scene, actor and writer David Gudiño movingly dramatises the violence against Marrón bodies in Argentina today. Another scene features Rebe López reading a poem about the limits of the anti-racist stances sometimes performed by middle-class white people who feel uncomfortable when a Marrón person enters the spaces usually occupied by them.