“A New Landscape of the Possible”: 400 Women, Politics of Representation and Human Rights

Aishih Wehbe-Herrera (Independent Scholar)


This paper engages with the broad question of the (im)possibility of art to represent a feasible and effective mechanism for changing values and raising glocal awareness with regards to gender-based violence and sexual violence against women. It focuses on 400 Women, an art installation by London artist Tamsyn Challenger which brings to light the feminicidal reality of the Mexican-American borderlands specifically, and gender-based violence globally. The installation, which consists of 175 portraits by different artists, sends a clear message in support of women’s human rights to life, and their right to live a life free from violence. Likewise, it advocates for people’s right to memory, rectification and reparations. In addition, the installation compels the individual, the public, the local authorities and the international community to take a stance against gender-based violence against women and impunity, and in favour of compliance to the human right to non-discrimination. This artistic project, which developed over five years and which was exhibited worldwide, represents a cry for gender and social justice in the face of personal, collective and state violence against women. My argument, therefore, revolves around the thesis that art is a powerful tool to mobilise people´s consciousness and demand accountability for gross violations of women´s human rights, but also an emporing mechanism for the families of the disappeared to claim justice and bring the missing family members into our collective memory.

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