Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Fine Arts

Committee Chair

Jarosi, Susan

Author's Keywords

Feminist art; Contemporary Mexico; Mexican art; Latin American art; Gender; Feminism


Feminism in art; Art, Mexican; Women in art; Art and society--Mexico


This dissertation outlines a theoretical model for contextualizing contemporary women's art practice in Mexico within the profound socioeconomic and political events that have taken place since 1968, characterized by the steady breakdown and eventual turnover of the Mexican state. Following the spatial theories outlined by Henry Lefebvre in The Production of Space, this study adopts the logic that social spaces are a direct production of the societies that inhabit them, as well as the social relations, ideologies, and notions of power that are espoused therein. Focusing on the artists Paula Santiago, the collective Polvo de Gallina Negra, Daniela Rossell, Minerva Cuevas, and Teresa Margolles, I identify within their works the visualization of three critical spaces of intervention: the female body, the familial home, and the streets as a site of protest. Organized according to a framework that emphasizes spatial politics, I argue that such works constitute a feminist production of space that challenges the social relations, hierarchies of power, and gender roles that have been embodied by traditional "spaces of femininity." The artists' respective performances, photography, installations, and sculptures are analyzed according to how they confront traditional definitions of femininity and gender norms that limit and confine women's accessibility to and social mobility within the spaces of everyday life in Mexico. Strategically engaging with the concepts and effects of the traditional private/public dichotomy as it has been deployed in Mexican national rhetoric, the artists reveal such binary thinking to be false, socially-contrived, and politically motivated. In doing so, they critique the very processes through which gender is constructed and offer new ways to think about womanhood outside of traditional archetypal frameworks. Underscoring the role that bodily action plays in the production of space and transformation of society, these artists are identified as producers of the spaces of feminism, a designation that foregrounds contemporary women's social and political interventions, which continue to formulate the new realities of Mexican life, post-1968. These contemporary women artists speak to a feminist presence in the visual arts that has helped contribute to the growth of a critical civil society, a contribution that has been largely absent from the discourse on contemporary art history in Mexico. What is ultimately revealed is a new understanding of the Mexican nation, borne out through the works of contemporary feminist art and viewed through the lens of female agency. The artists included in this dissertation take advantage of the interactive framework of the production of space as they actively engage contemporary concepts of womanhood and national identity, wherein women are admitted into the national fabric as social agents negotiating new spaces for what it means to be a Mexican feminist.