This Sunday 9th October, the anonymous Guerrilla Girls collective joined us in the fight for human rights in Mexico. As part of the exhibition “Explore Media Networks”, organised by Tate Modern, London, the artists invited the public to occupy and politicise the gallery. London Mexico Solidarity responded by sharing information on the current human rights crisis in Mexico and highlighting the role of the international community, including the UK, in combatting policies implemented by Enrique Peña Nieto particularly the so-called ‘war on drugs’.
At Tate Modern, members of both collectives talked about the importance of informing a wider public of the increase by 6000% of British arms exports to Mexico in 2015, the same year that Peña Nieto was welcomed to the UK by both the queen and David Cameron. As well as drawing attention to lucrative arms-trade agreements between both countries (as part of the 2015 ¨Mexico UK Dual Year¨) they also focused on the Mexican government’s invitation to British Petroleum (BP) to tender for deep water oil extraction in Mexican coast, despite them being responsible for the disastrous oil spill in the Golf of Mexico in 2010. As recently as 30th September this year, #MexicoDay2016 brought together again the Mexican government and British companies for an event sponsored by BP and HSBC, a bank which has recently been accused by the US Department of Justice, of money-laundering for Mexican drug cartels.
Guerrilla Girls actively showed their support for Mexican activists fighting against disappearances, femicides and other forms of abuse and violence which have skyrocketed in recent years as Mexico has become increasingly militarised. With placards declaring “Stop Disappearances: 43 + 28000. Stop femicides. Stop UK’s support of the War on Drugs”, the artists called attention to the influence and complicity of the UK in conflicts not only in Mexico but all over the world.
Guerrilla Girls burst into the art world in the mid-1980’s by calling attention to the lack of public and private spaces in which female artists and artists of colour could operate. Their work “Do women have to be naked to get into a museum?” highlighted that only 5% of all works on display in American art museums were by women whilst 95% of nudes on display were female. Their work aims to provoke conversations around implicit sexist and racist attitudes and behaviour within the art world and wider society.