Carmen Reategui

Visual Artist

When a “limeña”* becomes a peruvian

The writer and communicator analyzes the meaning and the exploit of the work Causa Popular, by the artist Carmen Reátegui

By Josefina Barrón

For a long time, Carmen Reátegui has been kneading a “Causa”.**

The “causa” is made of potatoes, and filled with dignity, identity, love for the motherland, which is another word for country. This “causa” has so many flavors and textures as soils and nations our country. It is a plastic proposal and it is essentially political, since it represents Carmen as an
artist and a citizen. An individual that belongs to a city or organized set: Peru.

In this year’s art fair, carmen’s “causa” materializes itself in four supermarket carts loaded with potatoes carved in huamanga stone within an enclosure the red color of our flag, which has the color of the blood that so easily comes to mind to those of us who lived the flow of death of the years of terrorism andthe internal guerrilla. Causa popularis thetitle of carmen’s proposal. | will not analyze the work, but indeed its gestation. It all began in the 80’s, when peru entered into a stage of profound demoralization and many artists reflected the reality of those times. Car bombs, orphanhood and pain. Hyperinflation, bewilderment, anonymous corpses, a country without direction, and, to top it all, video tapes that showed how money could buy absolutely everything.

The artist drank from her bare, stark reality. Pain precipitated art. An art between the pure and the social. Far away from pamphlets and slogans and even from the most solipsistic lyricism. Carmen opened her eyes and her heart, analyzed her comfortable “limeñismo”, her world citizenship, her
seing and not being.

She entered beaux artsin 1981, at the beginning ofthe most terrible decade. She wanted to plant her feet on the ground, to opt for peru. She decided to make a difference with her art, to wake up the drowsy conscience: her own that of others and in that way try out answers. She would never again
se indifferent. Not her nor her work. That is when her causa popular began to be kneaded. A “causa” that this year she exhibits in art lima, a “Causa” that acquires different forms: overwhelming, peruvian, clamor, resistance, and construction of citizenship.

| refer to writer arguedas, even though he would seem to have nothing to do with Carmen’s Causa Popular. Incarnate in ernesto, a character from “El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo” (The fox above and the fox below) Arguedas talks about his life, of the agreements and disagreements of two
worlds in which he lived in his own flesh and which last until today. ”… Well we know that the isolating walls of the nations are not completely ¡solating. | was thrown over that wall, for a time, when | was but a boy: they threw me out of that household where tenderness is more intense than hatred and where, precisely for that reason, hatred is not disturbing but rather a fire that pushes you forward”.

The workof art is loaded with the being that creates it and at the same time, |t carries the stamp of its time. It is never apart from the society that gave birth to it. Thus, carmen’s causa popular was some time ago made from the stumps of the villa cedars that lay scattered along an avenue, evidences
of theindolence, of the abandonment onthepart of the authorities. Carmen made from some of these stumps, symbols of the collective struggle. And an artistic proposal. Carmen shall continue kneading an ideal. Beyond the supports she may use: a noble Causa Popular.

  1. Limeña is the term given to the female natives of the city of Lima, Peru.
  2. A doubleentendre: “Causa” is at the same time cause, and also the name of a widelyknown peruvian dish made of mashed potatoes and filled with a variety of ingredients (tuna fish, avocado, shrimp, Etc.)