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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.
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.
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.
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.
Lorena Wolffer won the 2014 Artraker Award for Social Impact.