Marta María Pérez: A Hommage to Rodin

In the courtyard, marble blocks await,

strange for their shape and, seemingly,
for their desire to live.
Jules Renard


 

On March 8, 1891, Jules Renard visited Auguste Rodin’s house. Later, in his journal, he offered one of the most intense and passionate descriptions of the sculptor’s work, to whom he qualified as a “sculptor of pain and voluptuousness”. At least a fragment of such notes seems essential to introduce the spectator to the most recent work of Marta María Pérez:”...the woman holding Adam, attracting him towards her with all her being, and the Satire disemboweling a woman in his arms, with one of his hands on the thighs, the oppositions of the calves of a man and the legs of a woman...” Marta María Pérez had not read Renard’s journal when she decided to return to that image of voluptuousness, redoing it through this minimum copulation that has originated the video and the photo series of her Hommage to Rodin. However, the text is there, almost as an argument of this choreography that represents the game of seduction and abandonment, surrender and possession. The result is a dance that puts on scene the different facets of courtship, through a body that has unfolded or that has duplicated to exhibit itself as flesh that desires itself, as skin that is caressed, and as touch that is offered. This, that the author describes as a “divertimento” is a piece on which eroticism finds the means of expression that Marta María had not explored before with such freshness. Here the representation of the body refers to, with an unedited eloquence, a sexuality that has been relieved from the weight of the transcendental. Beyond this subjective element, Hommage to Rodin has characteristics that turn it into a totally sui generis piece among Marta María Pérez’s prolific career. At least two things are observed immediately: one is the use of video and the other the use of colors in the photographs. The video is projected on a piece of marble and turns it into a sculpture that has movement (a stone desiring to live, Renard would say). The color in the photographs is almost an irony, with which Marta Maria amplifies the dramatic character (or maybe the implicit fetishism), of the erotic sign, while she seems to say: “I know, I know”. Marta María Pérez is one of the most recognized contemporary photographers in the international scene. She is generally identified with the peculiar figuration she has worked with during several decades, through the representation of her own body. Afro-Cuban mythology, Christian iconography or the symbolism of spiritualism have been some of the strongest references in the work of this artist. To this she adds, in Hommage to Rodin, references to art itself, and to the fullness and the mystery of the aesthetic experience, such as the experience of the body and the spirit.

By Juan Antonio Molina (translated by Leticia Consuegra)
Mexico City, March 13 th, 2010

 

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