Anna Maria Maiolino at Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Malba)

Curated by Paulo Miyada, “Schhhiii . . .” is the first retrospective exhibition in Argentina of Anna Maria Maiolino, the Italy-born, Brazil-based artist who—alongside Lygia Pape and Lygia Clark, her fellow members of New Brazilian Objectivity movement of the 1960s—is now considered one of her adopted country’s most significant artists. Taking its name from an eponymous poem written by Maiolino in 1996, the exhibition is divided into three thematic sections. The first, titled simply “Anna,” collapses the distinction between art and life, describing the woman, the artist, her daily life, and her struggles, contradictions, and varying geographies. “Material Actions” focuses on manual skills and repeated atavistic gestures, as seen in the series “Novas paisagens” (New Landscapes, 1989–1990). These pieces emerged from Maiolino’s investment in tactility and the raw sensuality of a bare hand shaping clay.

The section “No, no, no” confronts totalitarianism, censorship, repression, inequality, and violence. Here, the exhibition reaches its emotional peak with Las locas: O amor se faz revolucionário (Las locas: Making Love Revolutionary, 2022), a project that reflects the complicated period between 1984 and 1989, when Maiolino was living in Buenos Aires with the Conceptual artist Víctor Grippo. The work commemorates the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who defied the Argentine military dictatorship of 1976–83 and gathered across from the Casa Rosada, the president’s office, brandishing handkerchiefs stitched with the names of the desaparecidos, their sons who had been disappeared. In homage, the artist has created an intimate sanctuary, the black walls of which are covered with faces molded in clay. These effigies resemble death masks, an impression reinforced by the embroidered handkerchiefs hanging from the ceiling like memento mori.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

Mildred K. Pearson

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