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Anna Maria Maiolino / MATRIX 252 (January 17—March 30, 2014)
THE ITALIAN BORN, SĀO PAOLO–BASED ARTIST’S FIRST SOLO EXHIBITION IN A MUSEUM ON THE WEST COAST FEATURES A SELECTION OF HER EARLIEST FILMS MADE IN RESPONSE TO THE BRAZILIAN MILITARY DICTATORSHIP
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Berkeley, CA, December 9, 2013 — Anna Maria Maiolino / MATRIX 252 is the first West Coast solo exhibition by the Sāo Paolo–based, multidisciplinary artist, who has been making radical and innovative work rooted in sensory experience over the past fifty years. This MATRIX presentation features a selection of the artist’s early films from the 1970s and early 1980s that use the body to express the experience of living under an oppressive regime.
The Italian–born Maiolino moved to Brazil in 1960, living first in Rio de Janeiro where she became involved with the New Figuration and, later, Neo-Concrete movements, and where she worked alongside other artists such as Lygia Clark, Antonio Dias, Hélio Oiticica, and Lygia Pape. By the 1970s, when many Brazilian artists were engaging with the social and political issues of their time, the military dictatorship (which assumed power in 1964 and lasted for over twenty years) had reached its bleakest period, and its brutality became the predominant subject of Maiolino’s work.
Throughout her multifaceted practice, which includes drawing, printmaking, sculpture, video, and performance, the body is a locus for the expression of freedom and individuality. In In-Out (Antropofagia) (1973), the first of several films Miaolino made on Super 8 film, we see a close-up of two mouths—one male, one female—attempting to communicate while obstructed by various objects. First, we see tape covering the woman’s mouth—an overt reference to censorship. Then we witness the mouth trying to produce an utterance as various objects intervene: an egg (as if the mouth is giving birth) and string, which multiplies even as it is being swallowed and regurgitated. The title derives from Oswald de Andrade’s important 1928 Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibal Manifesto), which grounds Brazilian modernism in the reprocessing of other cultural and linguistic influences. Other themes emerge as well, specifically that of communication between male and female subjects.
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. The titles of these two works, when considered together, become signifiers of gender identity—the X and Y chromosomes. In Ad Hoc (1982), the camera fixates on a different part of the body in the act of expression: the hands, which combined with the male voice-over, emotionally express excerpts from French playwright Antonin Artaud’s writing. Like Maiolino, Artaud also believed in the act of enunciation and physical expression as a liberating form. In each of these works, a human body struggling to find a mode of expression—whether through speaking, witnessing, or visually expressing the written word—becomes a metaphor for overcoming 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.
About the Artist
Anna Maria Maiolino has lived and worked in São Paulo since the 1970s. Born in 1942 in Scalea, Italy, she emigrated with her family to Caracas, Venezuela in 1954 and in 1960 enrolled in the painting and engraving workshops of the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro. In 1967 her work was included in Nova Objetividade Brasileira (New Brazilian Objectivity), organized by Hélio Oiticica at the Modern Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro; this groundbreaking exhibition came to define the Brazilian countercultural movement in the visual arts, music, poetry, film, and theater. In 1971, after living in New York for a couple years, Maiolino received a fellowship to attend the International Graphic Center Workshop at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. Over the arc of her fifty-year career she has been in countless exhibitions. Select solo exhibitions have taken place at Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), São Paulo; the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona (2010); Camden Arts Centre, London (2010); Pharos Center for Contemporary Art, Cyprus (2007); Miami Art Central (2006); and the Drawing Center and Art in General, New York (2001). Her numerous group exhibitions include: Thought and Gesture, La Verrière, Brussels (2013); Documenta 13, Kassel (2012); Contemporary Cartographies: Drawing Thought, Fundación La Caixa, Madrid; many editions of the Bienal de São Paulo, including the 29th (2010); On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century, the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Biennale of Sydney (2008); Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007); Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2005); and Inside the Visible: An Elliptical Traverse of 20th Century Art in, of, and from the Feminine, Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston (1996).
She is the recipient of many awards and distinctions including the Mario Pedrosa Prize from the Brazilian Association of Art Critics in 1989, and the 1994 Award from the Association of Sao Paulo Art Critics (APCA).
The MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art introduces the Bay Area community to exceptional work being made internationally, nationally, and locally, creating a rich connection to the current dialogues on contemporary art and demonstrating that the art of this moment is vital, dynamic, and often challenging. Confronting traditional practices of display and encouraging new, open modes of analysis, MATRIX provides an experimental framework for an active interchange between the artist, the museum, and the viewer. Since the program's inception in 1978, MATRIX has featured artists such as John Baldessari, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt, Shirin Neshat, Nancy Spero, and Andy Warhol. In recent years MATRIX has embraced a greater international scope, with the roster including Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Peter Doig, Omer Fast, Tobias Rehberger, Ernesto Neto, Rosalind Nashashibi, Tomás Saraceno, Mario Garcia Torres, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, representing countries as diverse as Finland, Germany, Iran, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, and many others.
Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley’s primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA’s mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.”
BAM/PFA presents approximately fifteen art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum’s collection of over 19,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive of over 16,000 films and videos includes the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.
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