More specifically, as an example of how sectors of the dominant white culture respond to the increasing emergence of discourses that engage critically with images of race in Argentina, and the primacy of post-modern discourses of multiculturalism that characterise late capitalism.

As shown by the photographs, Huellas depicts an indigenous cosmology in which Amerindians and nature are intrinsically linked through the force of desire. In the images, the women dominate the composition, thus transmitting a certain mastery of the environment, not only by holding the animals but also in the poses, which imply action and agency, for example in the figure of the hunter [fig. 1] and the fisherman [fig. 2] – considered to be masculine activities – or in the way in which the gaze interpellates the spectator [fig. 3].

However, these strong feminine figures can also be interpreted in the opposite direction as a personification of a heterosexist male fantasy. In his study of beauty queens dressed as Amerindians in Bolivia, Andrew Canessa explains that indigenous women have traditionally been constructed as undesirable but yet sexually available. [5] This is especially the case of the chola, the urban mestizo domestic who represents, for some middle- and upper-class men, their first sexual experience. White women, in turn, stand for the opposite: desirable but not as easily accessible for mere sexual intercourse. This can be extended to the case of Argentina, in which many mestizo women work as live-in maids, to which it is possible to add immigrant women who came from Peru and Bolivia in the 1990s, for whom domestic service constituted their main occupation. But what is more, because of the predominant codes of beauty and handsomeness, many non-white women tend to be attracted to white men.

Therefore, in Argentina there is also a widespread construction of the urban mestizo woman as sexually unattractive but nevertheless available for white men. The photographs in Huellas, which at first seem powerful portrayals of femininity, can therefore be read as a white heterosexual male fantasy: the body of a white woman, and moreover, a fashion model, with the ease of access of a non-white woman. Thus, the models and the poses allow for the spectator the projection of sexual and racial fantasies about the Amerindians contained within the safeness that provide the location of ‹acceptable› white bodies. The calendar provides the pleasures of sexualising and exoticising non-whiteness without the consequences or conflicts attached to being attracted to the subaltern racial other, since the women portrayed respond phenotypically to what is ‹allowed› to be desired.

<<  Ausgabe 05 | Seite 129  >>