Argentinian artist Mercedes Aqui sparked controversy after numerous social media users complained that a photo series called “Ancla,” which shows the artist urinating on a petroglyph located in the El Gavillero community, Coahuila state, was deeply disrespectful.
According to local media outlets, the artist’s series was part of an exhibition showed at the Graphic Arts Museum in the state capital of Saltillo. The National Institute of Anthropology and History regretted the damage caused to the country’s heritage and vowed to start an investigation, though Mercedes Aqui claimed that she did not know that she needed a permit to carry out what she called “her art.”
Mercedes Aqui's photos are shown at Saltillo's Graphic Arts Museum - Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
The artist defended her performance and commented that she would never cause damage to the valuable vestige. “I used vegetable dye on my skin and I showed one of my buttocks, which probably scandalized some groups that have interpreted my actions as a sign of disrespect for my historic heritage,” she stated.
The woman claimed through a press release that there was a discriminatory and misogynistic campaign against her and that she was being shunned for being born in Argentina, even though she has lived in Mexico since 1978 and acquired the Mexican nationality in 2008.
Mercedes Aqui claimed that her piece is about identity, memory, body, and territory. She assured that “marking territory” by urinating on something is usually attributed to men and not women. “My piece has caused some violent reactions.”
“If these reactions contribute to a better care and safekeeping of petroglyphs in the state, I will be very happy. During my travels, I have found many petroglyphs that have been contaminated with all sorts of gibberish, names, dates, hearts, and phallic shapes,” she added.