Public Poetry: Mujeres Creando’s Graffiti

The graffiti messages that Mujeres Creando writes around La Paz are composed of short sentences and phrases written in cursive and signed Mujeres Creando that call attention to existing injustices, motivate the fight against these injustices, and envision a different reality.  The graffiti of Mujeres Creando is distinct both from traditional political street paintings and from normal graffiti; rather it is a combination of the two.  It rejects the rhetoric of normal political street paintings, which oftentimes use violent imagery such as fists and weapons, representing a machista and homophobic culture in which a masculinized figure dictates the truth from a place of power (García-Pabón 2003).  In contrast, Mujeres Creando employs an aesthetic of poetry and witticism, emphasizing the creative and generative potential of their collective work (García-Pabón 2003).  These graffiti messages have the power to imagine potential realities, uniting the political with the poetic in order to better represent the truth of Bolivian society (García-Pabón 2003).  The poetic power of these graffiti messages is amplified by where they are located.  They permanently alter the public landscape of the city, and in doing so, alter the consciousness of the society of La Paz, laying claim to public space as a place where women have power as political subjects not only to give visibility to their own realities but also to reveal the injustices of the dominant reality (García-Pabón 2003).  While graffiti has been used historically by subaltern identities to claim public space, the graffiti of Mujeres Creando represents a different take on this form of agitating for social justice, using their own aesthetic and poetry in order to express their ideas and imagine other realities (García-Pabón 2003).  The graffiti above is an example of Mujeres Creando’s work (photo retrieved from https://almavc81.wordpress.com/).  The message can be translated to “Neither the land nor women are territories of conquest,” uniting the issues of patriarchy and colonialism, and firmly asserting the injustice of male bodies asserting their dominance over other bodies, and over the earth.  The message, is short and simple, but it says a lot, and affirms the right of women, and of the natural world, to live without being violated. In breaking the dichotomy between public and private, the aim of Mujeres Creando is not to bring the destructiveness of dominant power structures into their private spaces, but rather to bring the creativity of their daily private lives into the public sphere, thereby altering it (García-Pabón 2003).  This is as true of their graffiti messages as of their public performances and other means of fighting for social justice

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