Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Cabello/Carceller


Cabello/Carceller (Helena Cabello and Ana Carceller) were born in Paris (France) and Madrid (Spain), respectively, and it is in Madrid where they continue to live and work. After graduating in Fine Arts and Art Theory in Madrid, they travelled to Glasgow and then to San Francisco, where they studied at the San Francisco Art Institute. Informed by feminist and queer theories, their work has a distinctive nature, due to their personal approach to these discourses. Primarily concerned with issues of gender (de)construction and their intersection with space and cinema as contexts in which patterns of behavior and the regulation of the gaze are built, Cabello/Carceller have been working together as a team on a regular basis since 1993. They work in video, photography, installation and drawing, and have published essays and reviews about topics ranging from the place of feminist discourses in contemporary art or the artistic collaboration and the role of the artist as critic. They also teach at the School of Art and Architecture, Universidad Europea de Madrid, and have lectured widely, mainly in Spain.

In 2000, they curated Zona F, an exhibition about the influence of feminisms in contemporary artistic practice. Recurrent interests for them are the gendered politics of space, and the construction of masculinity outside the male body. In addition to several solo museum and private gallery exhibitions, their work has been included in many group shows, including Monocanal at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofa (Madrid, 2003), Cooling Out. On the paradox of feminism at the Glucksman Gallery in Cork (Ireland, 2006), Don’t Call it Performance at Museo del Barrio in New York (2004), and Trans Sexual Express at Centre d’art Santa Monica (Barcelona, 2001). They have been invited to participate in L’oeil cran ou la nouvelle image: Cent vidos pour repenser le monde, at the Casino Luxembourg-Forum d’art contemporain (Luxemburg), a major international survey of video works. In 2007, their work was featured in Global Feminisms, a transnational exhibition of 88 feminist artists organized by the Brooklyn Museum.
From the beginning of the nineties, we have developed a multidisciplinary work that uses video, photography, writing, sound or the creation of environments with the intention of questioning the hegemonic means of representation, and suggesting critical alternatives to them. Our research is the consequence of a personal experience in a conservative social and artistic context which tried to label us and simplify our work, a common practice when it comes to artists who openly address queer contents or who acknowledge an influence from feminist theories in their work. These are some of the reasons why we decided to engage in ambiguous practices which would try to escape easy definitions without avoiding conflict.

Working in collaboration was a point of departure to highlight the implicit contradictions that survive in an art sphere that still associates authorship with the romantic ideal of individual creation. Our work has also focused on an analysis of the spaces where alternative experiences of living and/or behaving are allowed to exist, either in an open or hidden manner, therefore addressing the gendered politics of space and architecture design. Sin título (Utopía) offer a counterview to the happy, colourful images of Hockneys’ California, but the swimming pools portrayed there are closer to post-AIDS 90s. Other works have concentrated in a representation that looks for transitional moments, like bars and discotheques in the absence of bodies, after the party has ended, or movie theaters.

Another recurrent interest for us is related to contradictory aspects in the construction of masculinity and with an exploration for new models of beauty. We believe that cinema could be considered as one of the most important “schools of behaviour” in our culture, operating simultaneously as screen and mirror, and we have used it to reveal some stereotypes that work in the production of dominant masculinity, also dealing with the possibility of masculinity as a construction outside the male body.

The work Un beso, shown in Global Feminisms, is a conceptually complex but formally direct self-portrait. The video reflects on the paradoxes existing in human relationships and the dynamics that operate in collaboration. The use of black and white recalls the performative video pieces in the seventies, but here the scene appears fragmented, whereas the two faces kissing on the screen seem to be fighting to occupy its centre while escaping the spectator’s gaze, a spectator whose visual pleasure is restricted by a violent discussion.

View Cabello/Carceller's CV (PDF)

Exercises of Power. Cases: Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List), Fred MacMurray, John Lemmon (The Apartment), DVD, b/w, sound, 8’15’’Casting: James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause), DVD, colour, sound, 32’ 50’’Autorretrato como fuente (Self-Portrait as a Fountain), colour photography, 150 x 100 cm.Instrucciones de uso (Instructions for Use), DVD, colour, sound, 6’30’’Sin título (Utopia) # 9, colour photography, 50 x 70 cm.Alguna parte (SomeWhere) # 28, colour photography, 120 x 180 cm.Un beso (A Kiss), VHS transferred into DVD, b/w, sound, 4’

Madrid, Madrid


Text, images, audio, and/or video in the Feminist Art Base are copyrighted by the contributing artists unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.