In the Picket Family Video Gallery, Floor 2L
Regina José Galindo has become a world-renowned artist for her impactful denunciation of gender and racial violence. La Sombra (The Shadow) is a video-performance that was commissioned for Documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany, one of the world’s leading exhibitions of contemporary art.
In one regard, the work underscores Germany’s complicity in the arms industry by highlighting the fact that it is one of the largest weapons manufacturers in the world. Besides being a critique of the state’s use of force and its dependence on the economy of war, La Sombra also speaks to the constant sensation of persecution that has become both prevalent and naturalized in our day-to-day existence. In this sense, and by directly addressing Europe’s political and social turmoil, Galindo’s performance embodies the fragility and vulnerability of the body in the midst of a critical refugee crisis and changing racial politics. Running in front of a tank, Galindo’s body becomes a gendered metaphor for women’s everyday reality. While the tank may suggest a particular kind of enemy, the artist is running from the endless cycle of violence that is perpetuated against women across many spheres of life, most specifically within conflict zones.
Initially confronting the ongoing oppression experienced in her native Guatemala, Galindo first became a strong advocate of women’s rights and social justice. Earlier performances like Quién puede borrar las huellas? (Who Can Erase the Traces?) from 2003 and (279) Golpes (Blows) from 2005 delineate Galindo’s recurrent attention to the female body as the territory where the boundaries between the human and the inhuman are constantly being waged. However, her increasing international status has enabled her to highlight how the power asymmetries that uphold the systematic persecution of racialized and gendered bodies is, in essence, a global phenomenon.
—Sara Garzón, PhD candidate (History of Art)