Margarita Paksa

19322020 | Buenos Aires, Argentina
Margarita Paksa — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Portrait of Margarita Paksa, 1968, courtesy Leandro Cairola Paksa


Argentine multidisciplinary artist.

Margarita Paksa infused her experimental work in multiple media with her life-long political commitment. Using materials like neon, iron and plastic, and working in video as well as computers, she addressed censorship, violence against women and the consequences of the unbridled free market, and demonstrated her support for art education, political freedom and environmentalism.
The theme of violence emerged early in M. Paksa’s sculptures, such as La Garra [The claw, 1952] and Agresión [Aggression, 1962]. In the series El Rapto de Europa [The abduction of Europa, 1958] she turned the original myth of the kidnapping of Europa on its head, transforming it into a feminist narrative. Now, instead of the Phoenician princess being carried off by Zeus in the form of a bull, Europa herself carries the animal-god on her shoulders as if to offer it up for sacrifice. Some years later the motif of violence against women reappeared in drawings of women with their hands tied in the series Ella es Comida [She is a meal, 1977] and her sculpture La Canilla [The shinbone, 1986], where a dismembered body metamorphosises into a hanging head.

During the 1960s M. Paksa became a member of the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella where, influenced by communication theory and semiotics, the concept of the dematerialisation of the art object and technological experimentation, she made projects such 500 watts 4535Kc 4,5 C (1967), where sensors caused visitors to activate sounds as they passed through a light beam. In Comunicaciones (1968), visitors facing a platform covered with sand and the imprint of two bodies listen to a record. One side plays a monotone description of an environment, and the other the panting of a couple having sex. M. Paksa explored game theory and the winner-loser binomial in pieces such as Partido de Tenis [Tennis game, 1967/1997], conceived in the 1960s but realised only decades later because of technical challenges. She contemplated time in Tiempo de descuento. Cuentaregresiva. La Hora 0 [Overtime. Countdown. Zero hour, 1978], a cutting-edge experimental video. Her reflections on the environment include Sin Título o El Avance Urbano [Untitled, or urban sprawl, 1996], where a steel structure rises menacingly over pastureland.

Her political commitment to denouncing totalitarian regimes and colonialism is manifest in her exhibition Homenaje al Viet-Nam [Homage to Vietnam, 1966] and the collective action Tucumán Arde [Tucuman is burning, 1968]. During the 1970s she mapped out the political violence in her country with her Diagramas de Batallas, charts of the uprisings breaking out in Argentina during that decade. She held to this commitment throughout her life as an activist in groups such as the Movimiento por la Reconstrucción y Desarrollo de la Cultura Nacional in the early 1980s, and, years later, artworks that directly confronted the free-market paradigm being imposed throughout Latin America, including Poder y Dinero [Power and money, 1999]. She was also active in struggles for the recognition of the importance of training art teachers, which brought about the 1996 founding of the Instituto Universitario Nacional del Arte.

Agustín Díez Fischer

Translated from the Spanish by Leo Stephen Torgoff.

A notice produced as part of the TEAM international academic network: Teaching, E-learning, Agency and Mentoring

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