Elles. Una Xina en Femení. 2015.

Ellas. Una China en Femenino. Es un proyecto estrechamente ligado con la lucha universal por los derechos humanos. Un trabajo artístico a través del cual doy a conocer la experiencia de mujeres peticionistas y feministas en China, mujeres que luchan por los derechos humanos, mujeres que luchan por sus derechos, mujeres que son como nosotras. Después de 4 años viviendo en Pekín, sentí la gran necesidad de hacer un proyecto donde pudiese reflejar una de las realidades de este país. Un país con un gobierno que no cuida de su población, que la menosprecia y la maltrata. Un gobierno que no respeta los derechos fundamentales de las personas mientras la sociedad está en plena vía de desarrollo.

El 25 de Noviembre de 2014 hice una exposición en el día contra la violencia de Género en Pekín organizada por la Unión Europea y la Embajada de España. Allí conocí a una de las defensoras de derechos humanos más reconocida de China. A partir de este día fuimos coincidiendo en diferentes actos relacionados con los derechos humanos y los derechos de la mujer. El pasado mes de Abril, di una conferencia sobre mi trabajo y sobre la mujer en el arte donde esta mujer asistió. A partir de allí empezó a gestarse el proyecto que hoy presento. Gracias a su colaboración y a la ayuda de un diplomático en derechos humanos de la Union Europea en Pekín, me ha sido posible entrar en contacto con todas estas mujeres de gran valentía, escuchar sus historias, compartir momentos y conversaciones muy especiales e intentar hacerles un poco de altavoz en el exterior. A pesar del riesgo que esto supone para su seguridad.

La gran mayoría han sufrido encarcelaciones injustas en campos de reeducación y en cárceles negras (prisiones ilegales), torturas y tratos inhumanos repetidas veces.

Para esta instalación me he salido de mi formato habitual, la fotografía, para utilizar la técnica de la serigrafía y luego he intervenido los papeles serigrafiados con distintas técnicas. Me sirvo de estas manipulaciones para expresar lo que no se ve. Para mí es una manera de dedicarme en soledad a cada una de las mujeres, a pensar en sus historias, sus vivencias y representar de manera más o menos abstracta lo que sus historias me transmiten.

Esta exposición es una forma de homenajearlas, de meditar con ellas y para ellas durante las horas que me dedico a su fotografía.

A través de este proyecto artístico les invito a conocer la realidad de estas mujeres luchadoras.

Gisela Ràfols

 

THEM

China: a female perspective

“Them” are all and each women whom I’ve shot with my camera, who stood in front of my camera objective without any sense of shame, they gazed the lens and waited for my shot. I took picture of them without any particular preparation. No poses, unpretentious, unretouched, just a clean shot, sincere. Catching a soul, something not seen but felt, which has a presence of its own and from which no one can escape.

They are women alive and not resigned. Women who fight and defend their rights and those of their compatriots. Wives, mothers, sisters, lesbians, women in love, young women and older women, women with ethics, ordinary women. Women. They are only a small number of people who live in this “great” country called China. People living under a regime which punishes, expropriates defenceless people from their land, limits their freedoms, denies their requests, prohibits them from petitioning, takes away what is theirs and despises, abuses and detains.

These women are a small sample of many women who are currently fighting for their rights in China, for universal human rights. Most of them were arbitrarily detained in re-education camps and black jails (illegal prisons), sometimes tortured. And not only they are silenced and harassed, but also their families and acquaintances, everything and everyone related to them is considered dangerous by the Chinese government.

What is difficult to figure out is the vitality, strength and courage that infuse into their lives. In none of my conversations with them I saw a tear, a sign of weakness or even fear. They are people who speak with their head held high, who know what are their rights and try to defend them for themselves and for others despite the circumstances. Women with faith. Faith in human dignity.

This struggle in China is nothing new, it can be observed all along its history. However, the situation has become more worrisome in recent decades when, at the same time, China intends to be recognised as a responsible international actor and therefore should care more for the rights of its population. We are not talking about something exotic, we are talking about respect for universal human rights, according to which principles we are all born equal in rights and dignity. Human rights violations in China are not only a problem for Chinese people and China, it also affects all of us as human beings. Outside pressure from organizations like the United Nations, the European Union, NGOs, etc.  has been a small help to reduce the sufferings endured by the Chinese population and improve the situation of human rights. But until when?

This project was suggested to me by a courageous woman who did not hesitate to pull ahead. I had never considered producing an artistic project to express political criticism before. So far, my work has basically been artistic photography pondering emotions and the role of women from a very introspective point of view. For this installation I used the technique of silkscreen and various types of interventions on the picture. I chose to intervene on the pictures to reveal what is not there, what we can’t see.

For me it is a way to meditate on the life of each of these women, to think about their experiences and represent in a more or less abstract what their stories convey me so. “Them” is not an artistic project about politics, it is a project about the universality of human rights. I want people outside China to identify with these women.

I received support from people (rights defenders, contacts, translators and interpreters) who made this project possible. As the topic and the photographs are sensitive, such an exhibition would be banned in China. It could lead to detentions, among other possible punishments.Therefore I will not disclose their names.

This exhibition is a tribute to “them”, an invitation to meditate with them and for them, as I did during the hours during which I had been working on each photograph. An invitation to the public to meditate on human rights.

Gisela Ràfols