At age 75, Anna Maria Maiolino is having a late-career moment in the United States. Right now, in Los Angeles, Maiolino is the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and her work can also be seen in the city in the Hammer Museum’s exhibition “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985.” (Both shows are part of the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative.) On the East Coast, in New York, Maiolino’s work can also be found at the Met Breuer’s “Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason 1950–80.” In France later this month, Maiolino’s work will be in the Lyon Biennale. With so much interest in the Brazilian conceptualist, we’re reprinting Claire Rigby’s interview with Maiolino, from the November 2014 issue of ARTnews. That article follows in full below. —Alex Greenberger
“Re-Digesting Her Own Work”
By Claire Rigby
“Everyone is an artist,” says Anna Maria Maiolino. “It’s just that some people accept it, and others don’t.” Speaking to ARTnews at her São Paulo home and studio in advance of her solo show at Galeria Luisa Strina, Maiolino, now 72, says she accepted the challenge of becoming a working artist at the age of 16, shortly after her family had moved from Italy to Venezuela and then to Brazil, where she was quickly caught up in the effervescent artistic and intellectual climate of 1960s Rio de Janeiro. Maiolino took part in many of Brazilian art’s seminal 1960s exhibitions and movements.
Starting out as a printmaker, Maiolino has gone on to incorporate a vast range of mediums and techniques, including film, photography, drawing, poetry, sound, and sculpture, and even hand-blown glass in the series “Emanados” (2007). In 1994, for an earlier series “Terra Modelada,” she began working with unfired clay, using the material to produce some of her most unforgettable works. At the 2012 Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany, she filled the surfaces of a house with fragments of hand-shaped clay formed in a near-ritual of manual repetition. Glowing with a sensual, almost-living sheen, the installation, Aqui e Lá (2012), drew on themes she had been working on since the 1960s as part of a body of work predicated on the corporal and steeped in a carnality that is anything but sexual.
The woodcut Glu Glu Glu (1966), for example, depicts a ravenous figure, its mouth open wide before a table of food, and in the lower half of the print, a toilet. In a painted version from 1967, a colorful matrix of intestines provides the punchline.
“As an artist, you modify things,” she says. “Objects, materials. But art is working on you at the same time—you are transformed in the artistic process. As an individual, I have been seeking that transformation my whole life.”