Lucía Cuba

Clelia Coussonnet
  • Lucía Cuba, Action 1, “Lo justo es difundir”, 2012.
  • Lucía Cuba, Action 1, “Niño Fujimori”, 2012.
  • Lucía Cuba, Action 1, “Las doce de Anta”, 2012.
  • Lucía Cuba, The waiting / La Espera, 2013.
  • Lucía Cuba, The waiting / La Espera, 2013.
  • Lucía Cuba, Estados unidos de... / United States of..., 2013.

Fashion, Biopolitics, and Social Criticism

In Peru, 300,000 women and 16,000 men were forcibly sterilized during a birth control campaign orchestrated by the Fujimori government between 1996 and 2000. In official speeches and texts, there is no trace of this chapter in history; the state has never publicly acknowledged these violent acts or compensated the victims and their families — most of them from poor, rural, Andean communities. Other examples of government-driven forced-sterilization programs (in China, the United States, India, Sweden, and Canada) bear witness to similar policies of appropriation and disposition imposed on citizens’ bodies.

Outraged that the Peruvian state has denied this campaign and that the victims’ stories remain absent from the public sphere, fashion designer and social scientist Lucía Cuba launched Artículo 6: Narrativas de género, fortaleza y política. Aiming to break the code of silence and influence public opinion, the Peruvian media, and the political program, Cuba, through her project, opens new opportunities for dialogue by means of twelve “actions” — installations, fashion show-performances, videos, conferences, and workshops (2012–17). At the intersection of fashion and activism, these actions revolve around a collection of thirty-four garments printed and embroidered with archived images, symbols, and text fragments drawn from political speeches and victims’ testimonies.

Reinterpreting traditional Andean clothing, the performative garments of Artículo 6 reflect the social and physical trauma engendered by these irreversible sterilizations. Constrictive blouses and braids that cover the models’ faces decry the women’s inability to defend themselves against violations of their sexual and reproductive rights, even though those rights are recognized in the Constitution of Peru. Their bound bodies speak of pain, injustice, and mourning.

These politically textured costumes become vectors of information: activated during encounters with diverse audiences in local and international contexts, they are also outfits of collective memory, reminding us that the victims are still waiting for justice to be done. Unremittingly, through her radically engaged clothing, Lucía Cuba underlines the complexity of the question of human-rights violations in Peru and provokes social change by creating new narratives in alliance with civil society.

Translated from the French by Louise Ashcroft

Captions
Image 1: Lucía Cuba, Action 1, “Lo justo es difundir”, 2012. Photo: Erasmo Wong, courtesy of the artist
Image 2: Lucía Cuba, Action 1, “Niño Fujimori”, 2012. Photo: Erasmo Wong, courtesy of the artist
Image 3: Lucía Cuba, Action 1, “Las doce de Anta”, 2012. Photo: Erasmo Wong, courtesy of the artist
Image 4: Lucía Cuba, The waiting / La Espera, 2013. Photo: Erasmo Wong, courtesy of the artist
Image 5: Lucía Cuba, The waiting / La Espera, 2013. Photo: Erasmo Wong, courtesy of the artist
Image 6: Lucía Cuba, Estados unidos de... / United States of..., 2013. Photos: Erasmo Wong, courtesy of the artist

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