Art as a Social and Political Change Agent

As part of the awareness raising process in matters of equality that the UN has been leading for years, from the Social Development investigation institute a contesto f works was held during the first months of 2023 at an international level to show and explain people who visit the gallery #Imagineequality the support from art to equality and social justice ideals. The exhibition will be open from 10 to 20 October.

Within the framework of the international contest promoted by the UN, from an artistic perspective showing the ideals of equality and social justice, Argentine painter and methodist church member Magister Priscila Freire Yoder wa one of the selected winners in late September 2023 with her conceptual work “Hospital closed” (work painted in acrilic Paint on Medium Density Fiberboard 70×100 cms. It was, as its author expresses, “painted after seeing, through a window of the hospital were I work, the suffering faces of the people who, due to their mental or physical pain, held the gate bars of the hospital tight in their hands. The gate was closed because the hospital was on strike (…) those bars are a symbol of all kinds of obstacles that humanity faces when trying to have access to healthcare… equal access to healthcare is the key to social justice” she told us).

The author of this great work of conceptual art was born in Córdoba, Argentina, in 1980. She has a name in her country; she has a degree in Social Work from Universidad Nacional de Córdoba and a Master’s Degree in Policies and Community Programmes Outlining and Management from FLACSO, with a deep sensitivity acquired from her work in public hospitals within the country towards the illness-health process experienced by patients in public institutions. Priscila has been a volunteer for seventeen years in the Community Services Association “Fortalecer recursos para familias y comunidades” to which she donates her works to hold auctions to raise money for prevention and assistance to abused women.

She is currently writing a book on sexual abuse prevention on children at the same time she is planning a country-wide violence prevention projects contest for teenagers.

There is an important relationship between these mentioned projects because the art exposed in Geneva, at the UN headquarters does not carry a sales price in particular, but more of a basic figure for people or organisations to fund this and other projects with the selling of a work. Art, in all possible senses, becomes a political and social change agent.

Lastly, Priscila reminds us of Dr. Ramón Carrillo’s words (Argentina’s first Health Minister in the 40’s) that “when facing illnesses that unleash misery, when compared to social sadness and misfortune, germs are a poor cause of illnesses. That isn’t either a place where physicians are present. Social policies are. Imagine a society in which it is understood that health isn’t about doctors, but social policies”.

Argentina and Cameroon are the only two countries with four artists selected by Unrisd. In the case of Argentina, the works of the Argentinians Otto Soria, with his work “Sube baja”, Priscila Freire, with “Hospital closed”, and Rubén Barrio, with “El grito de la libélula”, were selected.

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