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Anna Maria Maiolino / MATRIX 252

January 17, 2014 - March 30, 2014

Anna Maria Maiolino: still from Y, 1974; 8mm film transferred to DVD; black-and-white, sound; 2:28 mins. Photo: Max Nauenberg, courtesy of the artist.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF).

MATRIX 252 presents a selection of videos by São Paulo–based artist Anna Maria Maiolino (b. 1942), whose multidisciplinary practice has over the past half-century explored the viscerality of embodied experience, often obliquely through fragmentation and abstraction. Born in Italy, Maiolino moved to Brazil in 1960, living first in Rio de Janeiro where she became involved with the various artistic movements of the time—New Figuration, Neo-Concretism, and New Brazilian Objectivity—working closely alongside artists such as Lygia Clark, Antonio Dias, Hélio Oiticica, and Lygia Pape. By the 1970s, when artists were engaging with the social and political issues of their time, the Brazilian military dictatorship (which assumed power in 1964 and lasted for over twenty years) had reached its bleakest period, and its resultant brutality became a subject for Maiolino’s work. This exhibition features a group of four videos, originally shot on Super 8 film, from the 1970s and early 1980s that use the body to express the experience of living under an oppressive regime.

In In-Out (Antropofagia) (1973) we see a close-up of two mouths—one male, one female—attempting to communicate while obstructed by various objects (tape, an egg, and string). The title derives from Oswald de Andrade’s important 1928 Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibal Manifesto), which grounds Brazilian modernism in the cannibalization and inventive reprocessing of other cultural and linguistic influences. In two subsequent works, X and Y (both 1974), we see more close-up shots of faces; in the former eyes are imperiled by snapping scissors, and in the latter they are blindfolded while the mouth emits a cry. In each of these works, the human body struggling to find a mode of expression becomes a metaphor for living under censorship and political repression.

Anna Maria Maiolino / MATRIX 252 is organized by Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator. The MATRIX Program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.