The Rainbow Center welcomed Cynthia Meléndez on Thursday to give a presentation on the formation of queer memory in an era of post-terrorism in Peru. The presentation outlined her research that primarily focused on artivism, or the form of activism communicated through various mediums of art, as well as queer memory and identity.
Meléndez began with giving some historical background to the culture of Peru.
Peru suffered through a heavy period of terrorism from 1980 to 2000. A period of reconciliation followed this and new legislations were introduced to protect and lessen violence against women, except the LGBTIQ community was completely left out.
Meléndez further discussed the presence of social movements that have continued to take place within the past decade. Many of these groups work together to establish representation of the LGBTIQ community across the country as well as promoting social justice and liberation.
Meléndez centers her research on visual arts and performance, which includes testimonial theater, street performances, documentaries and other visual media, contextualized by informal observations made in Peru. She examined the various forms of art in which the LGBTIQ identity is conceived, most of which were through queer performance.
“Beyond that, I am interested in highlighting how marginalized communities preserve their own histories and memories by using many tools, such as arts and activism,” Meléndez said about her research.
“Art offers a space of intervention; that is, art allows people and communities to develop narratives that may not be highlighted in places of ‘official’ knowledge. It is also important to consider how victimhood and experience is not the same for all people who may identify as LGBTIQ,” Meléndez said.
Meléndez ended her presentation by discussing paintings and media which constitute part of what she calls a queer testimonial archive. Through these pieces, she examines how identity, life and resistance against oppression are represented.
“In Peru and across the world, challenges to social inequality are still in progress,” Meléndez said. “However, these objects and performances offer alternative pathways for us to imagine new ways for us to engage in reflection and conversation regarding these topics.”