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Pilar Aymerich

PILAR AYMERICH

(Barcelona, 1943) is a professional photographer since 1968. Her photo-reports have been featured in Triunfo, Destino, Cambio 16, El País and Fotogramas, among others. Aymerich is one of the most incisive chroniclers of the feminist movement and citizen protests in Catalonia. She has immortalised events with her camera including the lock-in at the church of Sant Andreu del Palomar, in Barcelona, of the wives of the workers at the Motor Ibérica factory; the first Catalan Women Conferences; the demonstrations in favour of the derogation of the laws penalising female adultery; or the massively attended celebrations of Catalonia’s National Day in 1976 and 1977.

jornadasJornades catalanes de la Dona. Performance de NYAKA 1976

On May 27th, 1976 the first Women’s Gatherings of Catalonia were held in Barcelona, with the presidency of Maria Aurèlia Capmany and the participation of 4,000 women debating on politics, work, sexuality, family and education. The success of the gathering meant a major boost for the feminist movement.

The debates held in the auditorium of the University of Barcelona were interrupted by some unexpected events, such as the performance carried out by the members of the theatre group Les Nyakes: dressed in white and on their knees, they began to scrub the floor of the hall to call for the presence of housewives at the gatherings. The action contrasted with the political seriousness of the discussions and aimed to draw attention to the housework and caretaking that women do.

aymerich_adulterioManifestación pidiendo la despenalización del adulterio 1976Thirty-five years ago in Spain adultery was punishable by law. ‘Adultery shall be punished with minor imprisonment. The married woman who lies with a man other than her husband and he who lies with her, knowing that she is married, commit adultery, although the marriage is declared null afterwards.’ Article 449 of the Criminal Code continued: ‘No punishment shall be imposed for the crime of adultery unless the offended husband files a claim.’ Intense feminist protests were instrumental in bringing about the repeal, on May 26 1978, of the articles of the Criminal Code related to adultery and cohabitation. The images shows the feminist demonstration for the decriminalization of adultery in front of the Court of Barcelona in 1976, under de slogan Jo tambè soc adúltera (I’m adulterous too).

aymerich_violacionManifestación contra la violación y el maltrato 1976

 

 aymerich_asesinatoManifestación contra la violación y asesinato de Antonia España en Sabadell, Barcelona 1977

During the Spanish transition there was an astounding proliferation of feminist protests, groups and associations. Unfortunately they are now all but forgotten. Many of the battles focused on ending the Francoist legislation (adultery, guardianship, cohabitation, labour laws, etc.), but, as these two photographs by Pilar Aymerich demonstrate, the fight against male-chauvinist violence was also put on the political agenda during those years.

The photographs show two of these demonstrations in Barcelona. The second one, that took place in September 1977, shows the Cine Comedia at the background.

aymerich_encierroEncierro de las mujeres de los trabajadores de Motor Ibérica en la iglesia de Sant Andreu del Palomar 1976

B/W photograph

30 x 40 cm each

Courtesy of the artist

In 1976, 250 women shut themselves in for 28 days at the Sant Andreu del Palomar church to protest against the massive layoffs of the Motor Ibérica Factory. Although they were ultimately removed by the police and could not prevent their husbands’ layoffs, the event was positive for many of them, as they discovered associative activity as a way of getting involved in community, feminist and labour affairs. As the historian Pau Vinyes points out: ‘It was a story about the solidarity of an entire neighbourhood. Merchants and neighbours took them food; the sacristy was full of food. It was also a story about the emancipation of women. Some of them stood up to their husbands who wanted them to leave the shut-in and go back home to make them dinner.’

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