TIME Recognizes the LASTESIS Feminist Collective as One of the Most Influential of 2020

Photo courtesy of time.com Belatina, latinx
Photo courtesy of time.com

Since the performance of the Chilean collective LASTESIS “Un Violador En Tu Camino” went viral in November 2019 in Santiago, the choreography of women blindfolded and pointing their fingers at the patriarchy has become a rallying cry against gender violence around the world.

As BELatina reported earlier this year, the performance was written by Daffne Valdés, Sibila Sotomayor, Paula Cometa, and Lea Cáceres. It’s a choreographed piece, approximately five minutes long and reminiscent of a flash mob, that initially took advantage of the momentum of social unrest in Chile to put on the table one of the most severe public health crises in Latin America.

Pretty soon, other groups were singing along in Colombia and Argentina. Through this phenomenon, women worldwide have been able to realize with sadness that we all have a story of aggression to tell. 

“It is healing to say it and not to feel like you’re the only one; we realize that we are not alone,” said the authors in an interview with BBC News Mundo, sharing the process of unification and reflection that their work has provoked.

A few weeks later, thousands of women of all ages have taken to the streets blindfolded from Barcelona to New Delhi, singing in their own language, to show that violence does not distinguish geographies.

In the United States, in particular, hundreds of women performed “The Rapist is You” in January outside the New York City courthouse, where the former producer and film industry mogul Harvey Weinstein was on trial for his years of sexual assault.

Now, LASTESIS is one of the Latino groups listed by TIME magazine as the most influential in 2020.

In the accompanying article, Nadya Tolokonnikova, a member of the Russian feminist group Pussy Riot, describes LASTESIS’s performance and intervention in public space as an example of how today’s popular art “can be about changing the world, not entertaining.”

“The dance features squats because when they arrest you, the cops strip you down, and you’re forced to squat in front of them. (I’ve done it; nothing is more disgusting.) Now it has been performed by activists in more than 52 countries,” Tolokonnikova writes.

“Victim blaming and slut-shaming are the deeply ideological assumptions that are built into our brains, education, and legal systems globally. It has to be changed,” she concludes. “The 21st century is the century of sisterhood. Screw you, Weinsteins of the world. We have just started.”

But for LASTESIS, recognition is useless as long as gender-based violence remains prevalent.

In a press release shared in their social networks, the collective thanked for the recognition. Still, it said they are convinced that “feminism is the most influential thing in the year 2020, and we hope it will continue to be so for all the years to come in order to advance towards that more just, diverse and feminist society we dream of.”

The group thanked for the constant support they have received during the last year and, especially, for the reception their work has had on the international scene, “considering that we are used to being persecuted, censored, and denounced in this country.”

In fact, the Chilean police denounced LASTESIS for inciting violence through its performance.

But nothing has been able to silence the war cry of LASTESIS, nor the echo they have made worldwide.

“We approve of the recognition of the work of all women, dissidents, artists, activists, and feminists in Latin America,” concludes the collective’s statement. “We approve that the slogans of the streets be heard. We approve of the fall of patriarchy.”