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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Maggie Cardelus


I am an American/Spanish artist based in Paris, France.

Feminist Artist Statement

Making art and making a family merged in my work a long time ago when I realized that neither would thrive if both did not thrive. The making of art and the making of a family are different only insofar as the making of art intentionally inscribes and describes a space of meaning and communication in order to produce an artistic experience or visual trace of its happening. By handling domestic activities and responsibilities with an artistic intentionality they are enriched and transformed. The boundaries between what is everydayness and what is art are permanently blurred in a process that allows life to yield to what experiences it will offer, and, at the same time, allows art-making to work its vitality into our lives. My body of work shows 17 years of work transforming and being transformed by family culture. I have elaborated our cultural compulsion to memory-keep in my exploration of the family album. I have coaxed my album of banal family snapshots along a path not unlike that of a runaway selection, gradually turning it into a creature of extraordinary proportions and unusual morphology. Working on the album has allowed me to examine and theorize the unwieldy power of the photographic image and its complex relationship to just about everything. Drawing out a photograph’s materiality and hybrid potential, I exploit its unlimited possibilities (so far, I have been unable to locate any limits), as it spills over into drawing, sculpture and video. I have also, over the last years, begun to work with other materials like clay, bread and household paint/enamel, approaching them as photographs, thinking of them in terms of imprint, instantaneity, and reproduction. Much of my work is portraiture. Perhaps this is because working on others is a devotional act, a way to communicate with others through art. Working on others has naturally led to working with others, and my children are now participating more actively as performers in my work, leading to a different form of visual dialogue. The performance D/innertime (2012) was the first time all three of my children performed together. A short video that documents this piece can be viewed on my website.

<p>Laura’s Inheritance</p>

Laura’s Inheritance

This piece is a large portrait of my daughter in which she is transformed into a vase. Her body holds a bouquet of flowers made up of layered, large cut-outs of snapshots.

Laura’s Inheritance

This piece is a large portrait of my daughter in which she is transformed into a vase. Her body holds a bouquet of flowers made up of layered, large cut-outs of snapshots.

D/Innertime (detail)

My three children “wore” printed photos of me and were required to be me during the performances. They would periodically unroll the textile (18 large scale printed photographs) and push their heads through slits in the fabric (evocative of a birth). Over three hours they would perform the entire album of 18 images while engaging in conversation with the viewers. At times, the three “Maggies” would chat amongst themselves, discussing what she would make for dinner, and always conclude that it should be leek soup. The piece ask the children to enact the performative quality of the family album, and put themselves in my “skin” and imagine how I feel about my work, the past and oresent, motherhood, and my children (themselves as they imagine I see them).

Installation view of three pieces

A recent grouping of three works for exhibition Doing Life at Kaufmann Repetto in Milano. The larger work, A Rainy Day Transfiguration of Laura, is made up of 4 layered, cut-out enlarged snapshots showing Laura running toward the viewer while undergoing a kind of transfiguration and ascension. In Laura Unraveling, a single photo is cut into one single, long, umbilical strip that reaches her belly-button. She sees herself unravel and expand into the universe. I was thinking about her first menstruation. The small piece is made of broom grass pressed between two pieces of glass and spray-painted a pale blue. I see pressing flowers as a proto-photographic gesture that I occasionally include in my exhibitions.

Laura almost 12

Looking for Time (Loft)

The work is made of four layers of cut-out, enlarged snapshots. I attempt to dilate the time of the photographic instant by creating a deep, encrusted surface. This suggests time accumulated on the surface of the piece, like dust or paint, overlaid with the perceived cutting-time of the production. The process not only modifies photographic time, but photographic space. The image is of my mother caught in the moment when she caresses, or bids farewell to, a piece of furniture that she decided to sell.

A Father’s Mother

An incised plastic base is filled with sourdough and then sealed and allowed to rot. It will change and darken over time, and eventually find a stasis. The brass frame changes color gradually over time as well. This piece is a portrait of my paternal grandmother.

sourdough starter

Sourdough is contained a large ceramic “basket” I made to look like a hemisphere, a pregnant belly, a landscape, a spiraling umbilical cord, a galaxy. The pungent yeasty and acid smells of the sourdough suggested something primal, body-like odors, primordial seas, photo developer. The sourdough eventually dried and left a crust on the inside of the pot suggestive of the earth’s crust.





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