La Maruja, La Mano
La Maruja, La Mano

Pilar Mata Dupont

1981 - La Maruja, La Mano 2021
  • Photographic print, acrylic face, mounted on aluminium
90 cm x 120 cm

Pilar Mata Dupont is a Latinx visual artist and filmmaker living and working between Rotterdam, Netherlands, and Boorloo (Perth), Australia.

Mata Dupont’s work spans video, performance, and photography and delves into the fallibility of structures of history, gender, and memory. Using highly theatrical and cinematic methods, she re-imagines histories and classical texts, creating alternative readings that question the conditions of the construction of dominant narratives that shape Western society.

Mata Dupont’s Argentinean background and upbringing in Australia, Argentina, and Brunei Darussalam – all settler states or former colonies – feed into her practice through the themes she explores.

The artist's exhibition La Maruja, presented at Moore Contemporary in Perth in 2021 comprised six photographs and a single-channel video, the body of work interrogating the historical and cultural mythos of the feminine both within Mata Dupont’s ancestry and across disparate cultures. 

Six large-scale, vividly-coloured photographs depict a totemic feminine figure, a quasi-historical reconstruction of Mata Dupont’s own great-great-grandmother, María Cristina, whose death under mysterious circumstances provides the conceptual springboard for La Maruja. In an accompanying single-channel video, Mata Dupont digs into her family history, weaving together family interviews about María Cristina, and found references to her in archival tapes of interviews previously made by her father.

Who is La Maruja, the figure recurring in Pilar Mata Dupont’s new body of work?

According to the disparaging feminine noun in Spanish, she is a gossip, an obsessive consumer of telenovelas, a housewife whose life is defined by domesticity and pettiness, cooking and cleaning.

She is little María, the diminutive, the affectionately addressed.

She is Pilar’s great-great-grandmother María Cristina, who had few choices in life, married into the Mata family in Argentina, and died under mysterious circumstances in the early 1910s at around age 30 in the years following the removal of her son, Fito.

She is an archetype of mothers, of women, of the overlooked and reviled and mistrusted, the stifled and the choked.

Source:  Essay by Lauren Carroll Harris for the exhibition catalogue Pilar Mata Dupont - La Maruja, Moore Contemporary, Perth 25 September - 23 October 2021

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The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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