Art Influencing Politics: Anna Maria Maiolino Retrospective at MOCA
Anna Maria Maiolino is one of the exhibitions funded as part of The Getty Foundation’s “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA,” which puts on display Latino and Latin American art, in order to create a new dialogue with the city of L.A. As this is Anna Maria Maiolino’s first major retrospective in a U.S. museum, you may not be familiar with the scope of this influential Brazilian artist’s work, but anyone interested in Brazilian art history and postwar art movements will be rewarded with a unique perspective of these periods from an avant-garde female artist.
The exhibition spans Maiolino’s avant-garde work from the early Sixties to the present day. During her career as an artist, Maiolino has produced diverse artworks on a large scale in a remarkable range of medias and forms. From woodblock prints, expressive drawings and cement sculptures to political films and performance art.
What is wholly refreshing, and worth seeking out, are Anna Maria Maiolino’s clay sculptures. Like discovering a secret room full of presents, finally getting to Maiolino’s expressive clay installations made up for some of the disjointed darts thrown at conceptual and political art, although her performance pieces and films are raw and controversial. In an interesting and unique use of media, Maiolino uses unfired clay to contrast with our usual perception of the hard and permanent fired clay, typically used in sculpture. The sculptures Anna Maria Maiolino creates are soft, malleable and comment on the artist’s identity as a global citizen and mother.
The sheer scale of the infinite small repeated pieces laid out in whole series on monumental tables and benches speaks of the volume of feminine acts, which are repeated day in and day out, like making food. We never see these things all at once, and lose sense of the accumulative power of many tiny things. Here, there is both the frustration of wasted action, shown by the piles of carefully rolled clay tubes piled onto the floor in disregard, and respect for that action. By revealing the grand sum of many totals more than one singular thing, Anna Maria Maiolino celebrates the infinite variables that repetition facilitates.