Maria Evelia Marmolejo
María Evelia Marmolejo, 11 de marzo - ritual a la menstruación, 1981. Performance with a strong feminist and political motivation

By Leonor AmarantePatricia Rousseau in an interview with Cecilia Fajardo-Hill Andrea Giunta

What intransigence unites more than one hundred artists and activists in the Radical Women exhibition at Pinacoteca do Estado? The challenging effort of the curators Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, a Venezuelan based in the USA, and Andrea Giunta, an Argentine, resulted in the rescue of several subjects, who work in different scenarios, but linked to the desires of feminist experiences, personal, political and common libertarian struggles. The tension between territory and subjectivity runs through the female body, which carries several layers of places. The 125 artists and collectives, coming from fifteen countries, express themselves through performances, videos, paintings, photographs, sculptures, ceramics, drawings. According to Cecilia Fajardo, many works produced by women have been marginalized by a dominant, canonical and patriarchal history of art.

In the case of Latin America, the relationship between body and violence is central. Andrea Giunta cites illegal arrests, torture, births in secret detention centers, theft of children, in many cases, never solved. “These are some of the circumstances that marked the situation of the body, in general, and of the female body, in particular, under Latin American dictatorships”. Ritualistic, feminist and political motivations drive the works of María Evelia Marmolejo, present at the opening of the show, whose work Cecília Fajardo knows well and evokes in our conversations, one of the most visceral, the 11th of March. For her, the performance is like a ritual, a celebration of the female body and the central role of women in the origin of life. María Evelia presented, in a conversation with journalists, some of the reasons that built the trauma in her work. She, when she was young, had a profuse menstruation and always stained, stained her
clothes, the places where he sat and this was the object of bullying, at a time when bullying was not recognized or fought. Her story is a female story not necessarily feminist.

In correct assembly, it extends in rooms to picture gallery and works as a large videowall divided into nine chapters: Self-portrait, Landscape of the Body, Mapping the Body, Performance of the Body, Resistance and Fear, The Power of Words, Social Places, The Erotic, Feminisms that have as their guiding thread a deep research of the expression of women made invisible in their time. Many operate in her works, not only in relation to misogyny, but also in causes such as xenophobia, racism.

The dialogue between opposites and the negotiation of differences mark the body art that imposes itself on the exhibition as a whole and opens up for reflection on the place of the body. Right at the entrance of the show, the video, by Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz Gamarra, composer, choreographer, exponent of Afro-Peruvian art, involves the audience in a contagious rhythm. With pop choreography, an agent of rites in times of massification, she potentiates an anti-racist manifesto, which can be summarized as: discovering and coming out as black.

In the raging years of the 1960s, performance artists tried to destabilize the system, but the command was still in the hands of men. Marta Minujin is one of the rare artists to break the siege at an early age. With Rubén Santantonín, she made (A Confusion), 1965, a performance that involves the public, high part of the Buenos Aires bourgeoisie, and makes them walk through dusty labyrinthine spaces until facing a naked couple on a bed. The spectators' participation is part of the poetics of the 1960s and 1970s and is also present in other works in the show, such as Lygia Clark's therapies with relational objects; in the food served and devoured by Hirsch in the performance (Formigueiro), from 1967; in Margarita Azurdia's invitation in which she proposes to the public to take off their shoes, relax and feel the wet sand. These artists seek to highlight what is inside and outside the performance with other contextualizations, meanings and dimensions.

cellophane motel suite
Márcia X. and Alex Hamburger, Cellophane motel suite / Non-clothes, 1985-1986. One of the key performance artists in Brazil has always worked on themes that address sexuality, eroticism, consumption.

The healers, in their search, found maps of desires, impulses and repressed zones. They were surprised by the diagnosis of medical classifications of female hysteria, as worked by Feliza Bursztyn, in addition to ironic references to the Freudian notion of penis envy found in the works of Maris Bustamante. Here in São Paulo there was no performance, but at the Hammer Museum, in Los Angeles, where the show was previously shown, a ritual of celebration marked the presence of Regina Silveira. Visitors consumed the famous cookies in the shape of the word, which she created in 1976, whose mold belongs to the collection of the Luisa Strina gallery.

In the space dedicated to Mapping the Body, it stands out, inspired by the work of Duchamp, 1919, in which Ana Mendieta glues the beard of her poet friend and editor Morty Sklar to her face, to capture his strength and inspiration. The Cuban artist was taken to the United States at the age of 10, in the famous Peter Pan operation, with the aim of “saving” children from the local regime. However, Mendieta never adapted to the new country and demonstrated this by choosing her naked body and blood in her work, recurring elements until her tragic death, not elucidated brings together stories of a women's revolution still in progress and that acts as a work, with a material configured in a dense cosmography. The show features the work of Graciela Carnevale, an Argentine activist who worked in the group á and chose to lock visitors to her exhibition at the gallery, alluding to the repressive situation in Argentina during the 1966/1970 dictatorship. In all segments of the show we have keys that give access to untold secrets in which the horror present in Latin American territory reveals the attempt to survive. Placing each work in the proper space of this mosaic, which in some aspects invokes demons and in others places us before moving deliveries, is a progressive immersion in a besieged Latin America. In the midst of so many discoveries, the self-portrait and the portrait emerge that bring up questions, paradoxes formulated by female subjects who stood up against canonical representations of the female face throughout the history of art.

Andrea Giunta emphasizes the idea that these artists break with the place of the gaze, the body and the place of the woman, which even the modernism that was outside, now changes inside. From the woman to herself and her peers. Through self-portraits, artists such as Anna Bella Geiger interrogate identities in transit, as in the series in which indigenous daily life appears side by side with portraits of their daily lives. The video performance by Lenora de Barros, 1984, is a literal watershed for the show: suspended between two rooms, it generates organicity to the space. With Lenora, a written text can be transformed into a video, just as a performance can be transformed into a video performance. Opposing the general discourse, Roser Bru, daughter of a Catalan activist, reveres the only Latin American writer to receive the Nobel Prize, the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral. What is produced between gaze and space does not go unnoticed among female artists and violence is a constant theme.

Anna Maria Maiolino portrays herself with scissors and blades placed between her tongue, in a scene of tension. Her face comes to light and becomes a territory of subtle questions in the friction between drawing and photography, a territory that has always been visited by one of the key contemporary artists, the Argentine Liliana Porter. Anyone who took the trouble to leaf through catalogs of biennials and exhibitions from the two decades focused on by the curators discovered the erasure of the female artist. However, the show discovered and mined a variety of them, little known, working on different themes and styles, within a diversity and resistance. There are also cases of erasure by the art system, as happened with Carolee Schneemann who started her work in the 60s and was only internationally recognized years later. She was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2017. Andrea Giunta says that in the seven years it took to carry out the exhibition, some data were changed in the research. “There has been a change in the way of approaching feminism. The figure of femicide and violence against the body and psyche of women have been widespread in an impressive way”. The “microphysics of power”, as Michel Foucault says, is the power that acts in everyday life as a relationship.

For him, power is a producer before repressing, it produces ways of living, it produces realities. Some of the works address the process of change, the transformation of the role of women.

Many artists the curators did not know yet, they were discovered during the research and, for the show in São Paulo, four more Brazilians were included. Valéria Piccoli, curator of the Pinacoteca, comments: “In addition to the artists who have already exhibited at the Hammer Museum, in Los Angeles, and at the Brooklin Museum, in New York, we include works by Wilma Martins, Yolanda Freyre, Maria do Carmo Secco and Nelly Gutmacher. ”.

The intention of the curators is to take the show to some Latin American capitals and Cecilia Fajardo says that, in five years, only the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, with the help of its director Jochen Volz, managed to make itinerancy possible, even with the economic crisis from the country. arrives in Brazil to collaborate with reflection on the place of women, and casually in a moment of indignation about the current government's disregard for episodes such as the death of councilwoman and activist Marielle Franco, still unresolved by justice after five months of her murder, and the everyday cases of femicide reported in Brazil. ✱

Leave a comment

Please write a comment
Please write your name