After the plague

The contemplation of a devastating image, where power (represented by two men in a hat) faces a family killed by the yellow fever plague, which only a small child survives, puts the body of a woman, the dead mother. Among the many ways in which the painter Juan Manuel Blanes represented women in his paintings, which range from the virginal purity of La chica del Paraná to the incarnation of desire in Mundo, demonio y carne, is in An episode of yellow fever in Buenos Aires where what can be called “the founding woman” is not only pure, not only suffers, not only is she a faithful captive, but also summarizes all these attributes through death. This “foundational woman” does not represent the power that is concentrated in the galleys of the visitors, but refers to an ideal woman, selfless and victim at the same time, an allegorical woman of sacrifice and human vulnerability. In the work on women in the Blanes works that I have been developing since 2009, I have traveled through different forms of the founding woman: La paraguaya (in my work La uruguaya – 2009), La cautiva (on the character of La cautiva – 2010), The allegory of Lindolfo Cuestas (in the work The allegory of memory – 2011 on the remains of the elephant Leo), World, demon and flesh and the nurse from The Battle of the Stones, (for the exhibition Ikebanas del Plata – 2012) and more recently La chica del Paraná (for the works La chica del Plata, Still life and What the river brings – 2014). Although in the previous works the confinement and desolation were considered, in none was the destiny of sacrifice and death considered as in this work. That is why, in the play of tensions on the role of women with respect to their founding image, this work represents the search for liberation from the inexorable. What is inexorable is not death but the place that society assigns to that woman to face death. After the plague shows a woman who starts from her primal memory but who distances herself from the foundational pictorial action to occupy a situation of transit towards another plane, the search for a way out to connect with the creation of a new scenario.




Jacqueline Lacasa