“I see the art piece as a part of an ongoing process, with precedents and with continuation”


Stockholm based artist and cultural worker Rossana Mercado-Rojas (b.1982, Peru) has in collaboration with Grafikens Hus released a new graphical print in edition titled Fachapaz, which is now available in our Fine Art Print shop. Each sheet of the work has a unique background hand painted by the artist herself. A selection of this special edition print is also exhibited at Konstfrämjandet in Stockholm – hung in the windows and in the showroom. Through so called multidisciplinary interventions Mercado-Rojas explores decolonial feminist practices, public spaces and collective work, as well as questions regarding racialized womanhood and immigration in her artistic practice. In relation to the launch of her new work we were able to get a deep-dive into Mercado-Rojas artistry, as well as the background story of the details seen within the graphical print.

Text and exhibition curator: Nilo Amlashi      Photo: Anna Henriksson

Nilo Amlashi: To say the least, your artistic practice has a strong identity expressing matters of civil disobedience, intersectional feminism and decolonial practices, displayed through performance and print in both public and ephemeral spaces. How are these above-mentioned aspects recognized through this specific graphical work that you have created within the frame of Edition Grafikens Hus?

Rossana Mercado-Rojas: It has been a very exciting journey. I would say that in my practice I have explored printing as a strong and intense medium, mainly when I have produced materials intended to public spaces and for spreading organically. For this work I have conveyed previous imagery produced with Hysterix collective (Cecilia Rejtman and Angélica Chávez Cáceres) and added new motifs on a new composition made together with Angélica. Through the motifs we have word-played in three languages: English, Swedish and Spanish. Language is one of the institutional colonial fortresses that needs to be bastardized, for it to act as a cultural bridge.

As an artist based in Sweden, part of my practice implies (re)creating strategies to intervene spaces and making them public. In this way the work produced are in a constant process, with no beginning nor end. The work materializes itself in different forms and an official series of it is a fragment of its life. Each print is different from the other, intentionally. The process has been incorporated and built on the bases of different expertise and contexts.

NA: In relation to the previous question, could you perhaps elaborate on the central and core artistic messages of your art/practice?

RMR: Resourcefulness. Strategy. Overlapping. Interventions. Disruption. Plurality. Multi-languages and bastardized languages as institution, as well as bastardized practices. Being playful with borders, limits, and limitations, to dance with strictness and regulations. The prospect of inviting everyone who likes these words and stands for them to join the party. A revolution with pleasure and joy, as well as joyful anger and loudness. I see the art piece as a part of an ongoing process, with precedents and with continuation, and as a frame of time and space through our practices where we facilitate the visibility of previous knowledges and histories.

NA: Why are these aspects, questions, and topics, in your personal opinion, important to raise, address and work with? Both for you personally, but likewise for society at large.

RMR: I think art has the agency – and responsibility- to enunciate what lies beneath the status quo, in different forms, narratives, rituals/processes and media. We inhabit and survive in an extremely individualistic capitalist society; I therefore believe that art can make visible the things that are perceived as an everyday experience for “others” despite them not being far away from “us”. We can show a glimpse of structures like colonialism, racism, gender-based violence, classism, etc, and how those structures include us as either being oppressed by it or benefiting from it. That “otherness” is questioned, as well as the barriers of what the common responsibilities are too. I would say that for a BIPOC-person one is left with no other option than to constantly think about these issues, as they affect our everyday lives. In how they encounter the sense of either otherness or community in our shared public spaces. Even denying these structures and taking the stand of the oppressor is a conscious stand, an everyday practice. Which is sad, but true.

Colonialism is a concrete system, just like racism and patriarchy. Without changes on a societal level, the laws are useless, and so I think the potential of our* work and our presence are imperative in all possible spaces.

NA: Your practice is also characterized by collective work, like with your artistic collective Hysterix. Tell us about Hysterix and the core purpose of your collective practices.

RMR: Hysterix was formed in Lima in 2012 by female artists of Peruvian background with the intention of occupying spaces historically denied to women and non-normative bodies through criminalization and gender-based violence. The number of participants of the structural group have fluctuated over time, where at some points we have been able to activate it with five or nine of us, and in other periods with only two. Basically, we started the collective with the aim to demand space in a context that doesn´t include or accept women for doing graffiti or mural interventions. As an effect, I would say that our work and its continuum for survival these past years has been implied by our very practical approach to our organization and methods used. Our methodology is based on treating the intervention as a ritual, where our collective presence and bodies then constitute a constant ongoing work. A lot of times we have been called to join other collectives or organizations and through this we have added our work to an already active – and relevant – situation. We have worked in collaboration with groups such as Las Insurgentes, Warmi Bixchas and with other people in contact with different movements in for example Lima, Huancayo, and La Paz.

In the beginning of this year, we could in collaboration with my organization here in Stockholm, La Dekoloniala! able to take the time, sit down and really reflect on our journey as a collective. Through this reflection we explored our non-linear histories, our networks of support and of work, and how we have existed and survived all these years thanks to them. How we propose ideas and imagery in different surfaces, like walls, installations, and texts. But also, how we leave them open for others to contribute, to question, and to even destroy them sometimes. In that way our pieces are never finished, therefore never dead.


Between 2022-2023 we created two process-based exhibitions; one in Konsthall C and one in Botkyrka Konsthall, both questioning the hegemonic histories, colonialist writing of histories, who is left out of those archives, how we have made ourselves archival subjects, plural and rhizomatic. “We” as in the collective, our networks, our grandmothers, grandfathers, as well as our ancestors. We – in La Dekoloniala! – “officially” set up our educational, artistic, and cultural organization to bring forward decolonial knowledges from the global South as a form of decolonial justice. Our organization was one of the strategies to overcome the inequalities in the system, where it is known to be way harder for non-European and/or ”paperless” practitioners to access public funds to produce art and culture.

NA: How does your individual work differ from your work with Hysterix? Or are they intertwined?

RMR: I think this is a very important question. We continually talked about this during our exhibition at Konsthall C. I think it is imperative to acknowledge the individual as being part of the collective. The individual is not erased as part of a collective, but the nuances between where the individual ends and the collective or community begins can vary from one to another.

My personal work facilitates, or catalyses, a lot of collective work and networks that lay under the surface which are necessarily not visible, or they are ignored and disregarded intentionally. Since I moved to Sweden I have seen – in real time – how the idea of self-sufficiency or “autonomy” is deeply embedded in the Swedish culture and how the expression of support could indicate weakness or being a burden, which is completely ironic in a society whose basic public services rely on social welfare/ community taxes. I myself come from a country where unfortunately the public services have been sabotaged to enrich private businesses and transnationals, so everyone needs to support each other in order to be able to live. The common aspects between here and there would then be that mainly people with access to high resources neglect to acknowledge how much they rely on others to live their lives. This could be paralleled to how rich countries rely on the exploited impoverished countries.

Regarding my personal work I have the agency and platform to explore and make mistakes “in own name”, which is also lessons learned through my collective work/group-initiatives. This is why it is necessary and highly important to name the names of the involved. Because it is easier to be erased when you don´t mention the names.

There are a lot of personal situations, concerns and experiences that go through my own body, that materializes in different forms of practices and discourses in my work. For me, it is important to be in dialogue and find intersections with my peers in the collectives. At the same time, I see it as imperative to nurture our common work with our personal practices and explorations.

Mainly in my personal practice I have explored the situation of migrating to Europe, how this process imprints and shapes my everyday life, and how it is to cohabit with inequality of opportunities in relation to the land where we were born in or the blood that runs through our veins. How certain human rights are just for a small portion of humans, as well as children’s rights only belonging to some children. How privileges are only obtained after longer periods, and how some family bonds are intentionally dissolved when moving from the global south to the global north. Immigrant motherhood, criminalized motherhood, criminalized families, experiences on how teenagers stop being children early in life due to the racist gaze of society and institutions and so forth. At the same time, a lot of these mentioned issues intersect with what goes on in my birth country where people with indigenous background are killed in the name of “peace”, and where those who live in the capital hold most of the resources.

So, I guess the limits and differences between individual and collective work are drawn according to the need at hand.

NA: To return to the special edition print. Can you tell us about the incorporated elements within your print and the ideas behind them?

RMR: Some of the motifs come from previous works made with Hysterix. For example, the drawing in the upper corner is a work I did a long time ago as an intervention during the protests of 2017 in Lima, which I believe back then was against the official right-wing party gaining majority in the country. It depicts a pig being kicked in the crotch by a very powerful indigenous lady. With the support of the collective Las Insurgentes, the drawing became a screen-printed motif which thereafter became further used as part of different interventions in the streets. Soon after, and as a continuum, protests broke out against the police brutality towards civilians self-organized strikes, mostly taking place outside of Lima. Due to this the portrayed pig´s image shifted into the portrayal of a police officer: more precisely a “riot police” and all their heavy gear. For the piece made for Grafikens Hus the drawing has been “updated” and adapted towards a more “globally” recognized image of a riot police. Moreover, words in English and Swedish telling about ending fascisms violence and murder towards making peace have been added. Angélica Chávez has added drawings from her work “Hacinados” (crowded) and yet another drawing showing a figure´s face with its tongue sticking out – which I read as the depiction of the bastardization of languages. In the composition there is also a series of questions, asking about the role of or space given to women in public spaces.

It also asks about what ultimately can be considered as public spaces, when private spaces are where most gender-based violence take place. Through this we also invite the public to vandalize the piece – to vandalize every aspect basically. These series of written questions are specifically from a publication we did in 2014 with artists and designers Erick Zurita and Gino Agüero. For the Edition Grafikens Hus we have added texts in English and Swedish written in different tones, which are not necessarily direct translations. It has been a very interesting process that has allowed one to continue reflecting about things like non-linear time and adaptability in finding and taking on different formats and new strategies in the work process.

NA: Finally, what would you say is the significance of creating a unique edition of your art together with Grafikens Hus?

RMR: I think it is important to have these stories continually told and re-written here and now. I have learned a lot in this process of creating this piece from working with printer Linda Samuelsson, whom is also an artist. Specifically, in how whilst achieving what I was looking to achieve also being able to enjoy the results of the unknown or uncontrollable. Every created paper has a unique hand-painted colour base, and the idea has been to continuously let the composition grow into this particular work. When I moved to Sweden I wanted to continue working with pieces/projects aimed at public spaces, therefore I had to learn the nuances and structures at hand to be able to generate relevant work while being caring of and careful with myself and my peers. It is actually the same everywhere, and it is therefore important to be observant.

NA: Thank you Rossana, it has been a pleasure!