The exhibition Arquivo 17 (Archive 17) occurred from August 24th to September 9th, in the Museum of Image and Sound of Campinas (SP), it brought over 310 visitors from more than eight cities of the state of São Paulo, as well as special invitees from other states (from Santa Catarina, the researcher, editor, and curator, Regina Melim, and, from Pará, the photographer, researcher, artist, and curator, Mariano Klautau); a chat with the historians (Christina Lopreato and Samantha Colhado), specialists in the image field (Fernando de Tacca) and activists (Idilio Cândido Neto); guided visits for invitees and for the EJA (Youth and Adult Education). There were also preparatory activities: the launching of the Jornal de Borda in five cities, of four different states, and the conversation All solidarity with the strikers at the Casa do Povo, in São Paulo. The project Archive 17 occurred during the moment of the one hundred years of the 1917 Strike and during many commemorations established by the worker people.
Archive 17 inserts itself in a context of these commemorations, however, it is an art project and does not have the aim to rescue or to be of a historiographical/iconographic up-lifting. It is known that the CUT (Unified Workers’ Central) together with the AEL (Edgard Leuenroth Archive), realized an itinerant exhibition, which tries to establish responses defined between 1917 and 2017, demonstrated by an exhibition design that has today embracing yesterday through means of panels in the format of a half moon. Different from this proposal, the anarchist activists themselves realized commemoratory actions and propositions in a more continuous manner, and long before the year of the centenary. They also occurred in the exhibitive field, although the rescuing presented by them had a more propositional, subjective, and symbolic aspect, bringing the memory of those who were and fought in 1917, and with relations in the exhibition design that were more open and offered a greater possibility of fruition to those who visited. I cite the exhibition realized by the Carlo Aldegheri Nucleus of Libertarian Studies, as it gives visibility to the faces of the activists, inserting potentialities of yesterday into the montage, together with their acting which persists into today but without a unison response.
Archive 17 did not depart from a place about or of a representative survey, it is an exhibitory and research-based proposal with an artistic cut, and of the possible relations between art and politics. The set-up of the proposal was thought of with the Strike of 1917. It is a part of a project that accompanied the theme, in a way of adding up, of looking at together, taking into account the marker of the strike, while not being about the Strike in itself or in the name of anything that would establish itself in a conclusive manner, although it assumes to itself the preference for a contemporary decolonial feminine gaze, as well as for the anarchist movement of one hundred years ago.
The utilization of historical images was placed in several stages of the edition and of the process: in the Jornal de Borda, in the sound icons in the virtual space, and in the artist book. In the exhibitive field, images of women from a feminist temporality were privileged, and together with them, other elements were worked, such as: sound, music, installations, library, and maps.
The feminist temporality is a term coined by the art historian Giovanna Zapperi, which would come to be something anachronistic, with a present and a past in suspension, and with fractures and discontinuities (frequently erased by historiography, but constitutive of historical temporality) coming to the fore, making it possible for new meanings to become visible. As such, instead of bringing images of rallies full of men wearing hats, preference was given to reports, images, and elements from women workers. Although the Strike was initiated by people of the female sex, there is a imagery absence of these women both in the contexts of the street as that of meetings during the time period. For this reason as well, there is an installation of coffee bags in homage to the jute seamstresses, and album photographs of the family of historical women, such as the Soares sisters, are integrated into the exhibition.
Archive 17 intended to be seen as a spacial, exhibitive, and discursive apparatus. The researcher is the artist herself in action, but who summons it all is the constructed narrator. The Woman in the Left Corner of the Frame, who narrates what she saw and what she witnessed, at times relating it to her personal life and direct experience (in the first person singular), at other times as a direct spectator, or in communion with others. The personal voice, which is political, becomes more public when it accesses the voice and the actions of other historical women.
The project was only made possible with the support of Proac 15/2016 and the seven month-long work that I did at the AEL—IFCH/UNICAMP from September of 2016 to April of 2017. My relation with the theme began during my adolescence, in the 90s, and was then matured into the years of 2010 with research in public and private collections and archives.
Social issues in Brazil have been dealt by the police, and labor rights were non-existent. Working-class neighborhoods in São Paulo were at that time sort of small meetings. The workers created committees and workers’ circles, always at a regional level, district by district, without unity or trade union format. One of the most well-known organizations in Brazil at that time was the Workers’ Defense Committee (CDP), Edgard Leuenroth and Maria Antonia Soares were part of it. Leuenroth was a typographer and journalist who worked in various newspapers, including A Plebe. Maria Antonia Soares and her family was a relevant referential for the Anarchist Movement in Brazil.
The committees were this meeting points where wage impoverishment used to be discussed on a regular basis. However, the movement took off just after the shoemaker Antonio Martínez was killed by the police. On July 11, 1917, 10 thousand people marched through the streets of downtown São Paulo. The march designed a particular path: from downtown São Paulo to the Cemitério do Araçá where the protesters ended their march just in front of Martínez’s grave. The strike continued for many days and many other events took place all- over the city, such as the market looting and the rallies.
There were many women among the anarchists. Beside the main agenda’s issue – the labor impoverishment – they were used to speak on other essential rights such us the divorce and the virginity (Margereth Rago ). They have been the first women to talk about sexual and reproductive rights in Brazil.
Three large rallies happened that July: one in Lapa, one in Largo da Concordia and one in Ipiranga. After the rallies, the bosses pretended to accept the claims, and the strike thus ended. However, when the workers re-started working, they the paid the consequences being arrested, killed or deported.