Ionit Behar, Department of Art History,
Secrets: Intimate Space and the Public Sphere in Margarita Paksa, Argentina 1968-1978
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
While living under a military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1966 to 1983, Margarita Paksa responded critically and creatively to political oppression through an ever-evolving sequence of mediating frameworks. This variety of mediations made it possible for her to bypass the censors. Whether making art, writing critical texts, or teaching, Paksa experimented with original ways to confront the possibilities and limitations of the present. Secrets is a chapter in my dissertation that explores Paksa’s typographic drawings from 1968-1978, all of which explored the sinister procedures of the dictatorship and political brutality via visual poetry, with a particular intention to produce secret messages.
In this chapter and in my dissertation as a whole I argue that Paksa’s works speak to democracy and its failures back then but also speak to today’s world. Many countries that once offered democratic hope are now, in varying degrees, falling into authoritarianism. In the context of a dictatorship, where the public sphere becomes more and more theatricalized amid arbitrary measures of control and repression, the private space of intimacy takes on a different and essential role. My essay highlights Paksa’s effectiveness in reclaiming private and intimate space as a radical experience. Addressing the differences between private and public, exteriority and interiority, proximity and distance, Paksa expands the notion and boundary of intimacy.