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Columbia University

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development

Abstract

The Yeguas del Apocalipsis (Mares of the Apocalypse), were an art collective consisting of two men, Pedro Lemebel and Francisco Casas, who revolutionized the way transvestism was used in performance art. Active between 1988 and 1997, the Yeguas lit the way out of the dictatorship and into the post-regime transition period. For this reason, the context in which Lemebel and Casas made their art was more conducive to their own open criticism and explicit commentary of the political and social landscape, than that of the performance artists who functioned during the authoritarian dictatorship itself. This gave the Yeguas’ performances a unique twist, an acerbic vigor.

In this investigation, I seek to explore the ways in which transvestism served as a vehicle to pull the country out of the dictatorship and separate the people from the fear and violence of their past. I will present conversations I had with personal friends of Lemebel and demonstrate how their words provide evidence for my conclusions. Through my research, interviews, and discussion of various works by the Yeguas, this investigation will consider the socio-political context, artistic backdrop, and state of human rights of the era.

I conclude that the Yeguas’ transvestism affected the transmission of their performances on three different fronts. Firstly, the manner in which they straddle the gender gap, through cross dressing, attempts to deconstruct the patriarchal hierarchy produced, not only by a machista society, but also by the structure of the dictatorship itself. Second, the historical context in which they operate, the post-regime transition period, allows for their transvestism to act as an intensifying force, instead of a mechanism to disguise their criticism, as it was used during the regime. Third, and finally, the fluid nature of their gender, in other words, the lack of a clear gender binary, and the ephemerality of their performances serve to reject the intense consumerism of the transition period. By creating a product which is, in fact, not a product at all but a moment in time, the Yeguas interrupt the burgeoning capitalism and rigidity of expression.

Disciplines

Art and Design | Arts and Humanities | Community-Based Research | Critical and Cultural Studies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Latin American Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Politics and Social Change

 

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