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Daniella, a fair-toned woman with long black hair wears a black top and blue sweatpants with white stripes on the side, sits on a wooden stool in a garden, while holding a toddler.Pictured is a light skin woman with long dark brown hair seated on a light wooden stool carrying her child, who is facing away from the camera. The woman wears a long-sleeve black blouse and blue sweatpants with three white stripes that go up and down the leg. They are seated in a lush green backyard.

Daniela Ortiz, courtesy the artist

With Daniela Ortiz
Date and place of birth
b. 1985, Arequipa, Perú
Current location
Cusco, Perú
Year(s) of residency and/or fellowship
202223, Democracy Machine Fellow

How do you characterize the media you work in?

The outcome of many of my projects is books. That’s partly because I find distribution in a visual art context to be very limited. Even when a work is theoretically on public view in a museum, the type of public that museums invite tends to be very specific, and that invitation comes with intimidating language and an entry fee. I was formally trained as a painter, and that’s something I’ve returned to in recent years, along with ceramics and collage. I want to use aesthetics and techniques that people feel close to and can connect with, and that are not aligned with Eurocentrism.

How does your practice engage with technology?

I used technology more overtly—working with video and digital media—prior to 2016. When my son was born, I decided to go back to media that we think of as more handmade or manual. That’s not to say that I don’t use technologies in my work now. For example, I employed digital collage in order to build the images in my children’s book The ABCS of Racist Europe. I also put all of my publications online, so each has a digital version that can be more widely distributed.

Pictured is a a wall installation displaying each page of the children’s book, 'The ABCs of Racist Europe,' creating an anti-racist narrative in alphabetical order. The book addresses the connection between the migratory control system, colonialism and coloniality, while reinterpreting diverse words. The publication also narrates various struggles and resistances against racism.

Daniela Ortiz, ‘The ABCs of Racist Europe,’ 2017, a wall installation displaying each page of the children’s book, creating an anti-racist narrative in alphabetical order. © Daniela Ortiz, Courtesy of the artist.

What was your focus during your time at Eyebeam? Was there a culminating project?

At Eyebeam I was working on a series called The children of the communists, which brings together different moments in which political organizing has protected the lives of children. I began that series with the story of Olga Benário, a Jewish German-Brazilian communist militant. The Brazilian dictatorship sent her to Hitler as a gift, and there was an enormous effort to liberate her and her newborn daughter. I looked at more contemporary stories, too, like those set in Cuba, which has historically been a home to the children of militants from Chile and Argentina, and in Guatemala, where there are houses designated as safe havens for such children to live and study.

How has dialogue or collaboration with Eyebeam artists and alumni factored into your work?

[2022-23 Democracy Machine Fellow] Paula Baeza Pailamilla and I knew each other going into the program, and it was really interesting reencountering one another in the context of Eyebeam. She is from Chile but is currently based in Switzerland, so she understands the difficulty of living in Europe as a migrant person: a system of institutionalized racism that I have also experienced and frequently address in my work. This year, we met up when I presented a piece of theater at a Swiss museum. We will probably do something collaborative, like a seminar, at the museum.

How do you think about the role of the artist in society?

Being an artist is obviously completely different from being a militant. But I saw militants’ stories being repressed, buried, and lost, and I wanted to intervene in and counter that. I want my work to communicate its messages clearly and contribute to raising political consciousness around colonialism and its many violences, past and present. 

Eyebeam models a new approach to artist-led creation for the public good; we are a non-profit that provides significant professional support and money to exceptional artists for the realization of important ideas that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nobody else is doing this.

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