In 1989, Alfredo Marquéz used an image of Mao in an artwork. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. For every artist, the need to create and be heard is as basic as food and shelter. But what happens when you live in a country where the state clamps down on free thinkers, forcing artists to censor themselves? Four Peruvian visual artists, including Marquéz, defy this tyranny through their work and ignite change, challenging ordinary people to speak out. Spanning two decades of corrupt governments and inept leaders, this film tells the story of these inspiring artists.
...enormously timely and a must pedagogical tool for students of human rights, sociology, and the Americas.
In 1989, Alfredo Márquez used an image of Mao in an artwork. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. For every artist, the need to create and be heard is as basic as food and shelter. But what happens when you live in a country where the state clamps down on free thinkers, forcing artists to censure themselves? Four Peruvian visual artists, including Márquez, defy this tyranny through their work and ignite change, challenging ordinary people to speak out. These struggles and commitments raise the question: Is freedom of expression a right or a privilege?
Spanning two decades of corrupt governments and inept leaders, this film tells the story of four inspiring artists: Claudio Jiménez Quispe flees his home in Ayacucho because of insurgency with the Shining Path, a Maoist rebel group. He chronicles this violence in his retablos, traditional wooden display boxes. Alfredo Márquez, active in the 1980s underground punk scene, produces bold, political images despite four years of unjust imprisonment. With the downfall of former president Alberto Fujimori, critics targeted Japanese Peruvians like Eduardo Tokeshi, yet he reaffirms his identity through a series of red and white Peruvian flags. Natalia Iguíñiz provokes the Catholic Church and the socially conservative middle class with controversial images that challenge gender and class. Each artist teaches us what it means to persevere and make art in a country like Perú.
Highlighting amazing contemporary Peruvian artwork, this film combines gritty Super 8 with raw verité footage. It also features music by iconic Peruvian bands, Leusemia and Uchpa, and Los Angeles indie rockers, Pilar Díaz and David Green, of los abandoned.
A must-see film for those who study the Americas--and, for those interested in expanding their Asian American politics, culture, and race and ethnic relations curricula.
Its acute observations about the contemporary art scene in Perú's vibrant but troubled society make it compulsory watching for all who are concerned with the intersections of art and politics.
A brilliant, reflexive film about the empowering potential of art, Against the Grain: An Artist's Survival Guide to Perú inspires us to bear witness, moves us to anger and tears, and possibly mobilizes us to action.
The filmmaker's own presence as a Japanese-American woman making a documentary on these artists during the post-Fujimori years adds yet another layer of complexity, as she interacts with urban society and the ethnically and socially diverse artists she chose to present in this outstanding documentary.
While the film offers a compelling and compassionate account of several artists' lives in a troubling era of recent Peruvian history, it also raises questions that resonate far beyond that context.
...important for research about not just Peru and art, but also about government oppression, global human rights, ethics, censorship, women's studies, and cultural studies.