Margarita Ariza Aguilar lives and works in Cali, Colombia. She puts together her works from elements of everyday life and establishes connections and tensions with history that allow her to question colonial thinking in the present and its subtle impacts on people’s bodies. Her practice includes performance, video, drawing, painting, writing, the creation of objects, intervention in public spaces, participatory experiences and collaborative actions.
She is a specialist in artistic education, culture and citizenship and has a Master's degree in Philosophy. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Living Arts at the National University of Colombia. Her project Blanco Porcelana (as white as porcelain) explores the impact of aspirations to whiteness as a system of social ordering in the domestic realm, using her own family and childhood as material. She focuses on routine beauty practices with roots in structures of coloniality, which are manifested in multiple forms of everyday racism. Her project was censored by the Colombian justice system in 2011, after members of her own family lodged a complaint for invasion of privacy. In 2015, the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the project by declaring special protection over her artistic practice.
Margarita Ariza's collaborations with the CARLA project in this exhibition consist of several pieces (portraits) created by her and a video-art made by the Roztro Foundation. These pieces are part of her project Black Enough?, which carries on themes addressed in her Blanco Porcelana project. In addition, for this online exhibition, Ariza presents a video-documentary of an intervention she made in a public space.
As part of the works exhibited in the project Black Enough? Margarita Ariza presents five portraits made with different techniques, through which the image of Nieto Gil emerges on/out of the canvas, the engraving, the oil paint, the acetate or the acrylic. The insistence on making the image “appear” through various techniques alludes to the political/aesthetic aim of fighting against opacity and the erasure of racialized subjects from history. In Ariza's portraits, Nieto Gil's image questions and interpellates, sometimes obsessively, on the silences and erasure of "blackness" in the country's history and in the public domain. The image of Nieto Gil becomes discomfiting and stirs up sensitivities in national narratives about the presidency, which have been built on aspirations to “whiteness”.
Finally, the Black Enough project? encourages further reflection on the elimination of negatively racialized bodies today. It refers to the more than 971 Afro-Colombian, indigenous and environmental leaders who have been violently killed between 2016 and 2021. These actions remain unpunished by the Colombian justice system.