Artraker Lorena Wolffer : “A country at war with women”

Short read

States of Exception (Estados de excepción) is a series of participatory cultural interventions conceived for women to freely and joyfully exercise our rights in public and secure environments, which is currently being produced in Mexico and abroad.

Lorena Wolffer, "States of Exception". Participatory cultural intervention. Source:

Lorena Wolffer,
“States of Exception”.
Participatory cultural intervention.

Conceived in response to the growing wave of violence against women in Mexico that forces us to live in a de facto state of exception — outlined in Article 29 of the Mexican Constitution as the suspension of the population’s rights in cases of conflict or war — the project is centered on the creation of reverse states of exception. These are time and space-specific interventions in which women can exercise the totality of our rights in public arenas.

The first State of Exception is a four-course meal for 20 female passersby that take place in public streets or plazas. This apparently modest gesture — transporting an event that would normally take place in private settings into public spheres — produces a remarkable effect; it not only empowers each of the women participants but also delineates, for both the participants and the audience members, that other ways of being and relating to one another are possible.


"Your country is at war with women". Stickers in public places. Source:

“Your country is at war with women”. Stickers in public places. Source:

For over twenty years, Lorena Wolffer’s (Mexico City, 1971) work has been an ongoing site for resistance and enunciation at the intersection between art and activism. Lorena’s artwork addresses issues related to the cultural fabrication of gender and tenaciously advocates for women’s rights, agency and voices. She has also produced, facilitated, and curated dozens of projects with numerous artists using platforms such as museums, public spaces, and television.

"Talking violence" Source:

“Talking violence” Source:

From the creation of radical cultural interventions with various communities of women, to pioneering pedagogical models for the collective development of situated knowledge, these projects are produced within an inventive arena that underlines the pertinence of experimental languages and displaces the border between so-called high and low culture. Wolffer’s work — a stage for the voices, representations, and narratives of others, which are usually invisible in the Mexican scenario — brings to light the possibility of social realms that are grounded in respect and equality.

"Look me in the eyes" Source:

“Look me in the eyes”


Lorena Wolffer won the 2014 Artraker Award for Social Impact.


“I Spy with my little eye… A new generation of Beirut artists”.

Exhibition, Short read

Margaux Portron, Research and Communications Associate, Artraker.


Yesterday I visited the exhibition “I Spy with my little eye. A new generation of Beirut artists”, at the Mosaic Rooms, in London. It ends tomorrow, so if you can make the time, go and see it.

“I Spy” struck me for two reasons.

The first is the content of the exhibition. As discussed in last week’s post with Yahya from P21 Gallery, we expect artworks from warzones or postconflict zones to talk about war. This is the opposite here.


Photo of the Mosaic Rooms with three different artworks. Source: Margaux Portron

Photo of the Mosaic Rooms with three different artworks.
Source: Margaux Portron

Here you can see a lamp hanging from a chandelier. The artwork by Stéphanie Saadé is part of a series called Re-enactment LB /Chandelier, “a scenario seen in a traditional Beiruti house –  a lamp used only as a support for another lamp”.

The phone is part of the installation Let it ring, by Charbel-joseph H. Boutros, where three phones were dialled – the three phones are displayed throughout the Mosaic Rooms. “the installation/performance employs disappearance as a mode of visual suggestion, conveying historical and intimate meanings, finding poetic lines that extend beyond the realm of existing realities”.

The series of photographs by Georges Awde depict Syrian boys living in Lebanon, certainly, but they’re more about coming of age for boys than about fleeing a warzone:

His passing cover, by Georges Awde Source:

His passing cover, by Georges Awde

His passing cover, by Georges Awde Source:

His passing cover, by Georges Awde

For some curatorial reason, however, the photographs were hung quite low on the wall, and because they were displayed in the halls I couldn’t really take a step back (literally), to look at them. It is a pity because these are really powerful pictures (as the comments left in the gallery book also suggest).

Which brings me to the form of the exhibition.

I liked that there was no info on the artworks on the walls: you had to take a brochure and find the artist in there. There are so many artworks there that I feel like info on the wall would have disrupted their message. Instead, the pieces work with the space without the museographic codes.

For instance, this is not an artwork:

The Reeds, by Lara Tabet (in collaboration with Michelle Daher) Source: Margaux Portron

The Reeds, by Lara Tabet (in collaboration with Michelle Daher)
Source: Margaux Portron

The Reeds corresponds to the photos, it is not the whole installation. I absolutely loved this set up, because it engaged me physically with the artworks: you have to dig into the box, the photos will not stay in the same order, etc. But even more so, because it comprises “photographic shots of a sexual cruising ground tucked away ine one Beirut’s iconic waterfronts”. Very graphic images indeed. This set-up transforms us from spectators to actors – you do not simply walk past.



The Mosaic Rooms

Free Admission
Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-6pm
A.M. Qattan Foundation
Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road
London SW5 0SW | | Twitter @themosaicrooms |

T. 020 7370 9990

Nearest tube: Earl’s Court