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Anna Maria Maiolino: Making Love Revolutionary review

Art Whitechapel Gallery , Whitechapel Until Sunday January 12 2020
3 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
Anna Maria Maiolino: Making Love Revolutionary review

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Big turds greet you as you head into this show by Italian-born Brazilian artist Anna Maria Maiolino. Made of unfired clay, they’re packed, sinuous and sausage-like, into an aperture in a wall. At the same time, a soundtrack of stuttering clicks and high-pitched keening fills the air – Maiolino’s sonic interpretation of one of her own devised alphabets. The conjunction of giant jobbies and agonised straining noises might be ripe with comic potential, but if there’s one thing you won’t find a lot of in this show, it’s lols.

Now 77, Maiolino has had a distinguished – if a bit on the down-low – career. Unlike the artists she’s often compared to, such as Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois, she’s not been fêted with massive one-woman shows, but, like them, she has consistently used a combination of conceptualism and domestic symbolism to create a distinctly feminised art. She uses plaster a lot – oozing and haptic. It sits on metal tables and hangs on walls in worm-eaten discs. It’s fragile but frozen: malleable until it sets. Maiolino was deeply affected by the Argentinian Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo movement in the 1970s, where women publicly protested over their ‘disappeared’ children, and the perforations and voids in these pieces conjure absences and decay. Maiolino’s other preoccupation – of chance symbols that might create new alphabets and languages – also suggests the suppression of existing voices, especially those of women.

Upstairs, there’s a bit of a shock: Maiolino’s early woodcuts from the 1960s are full of earthy, stylised grotesquerie. Mouths gape, poised above toilets. Babies are born into a world of hooded figures and unfashioned, golem-like people. These images are rough and hacked-about, but they have a spirit that is lacking in her later, more considered works. It’s as if – in looking for ways to convey loss – Maiolino has misplaced something of herself, something more human and wonky. If she’d managed to preserve more of that, those introductory sausages could have been something truly special.

Details

Venue name: Whitechapel Gallery
Venue website: www.whitechapelgallery.org
Venue phone: 020 7522 7888
Address: 77-82 Whitechapel High St
London
E1 7QX
Transport: Tube: Aldgate East
Price: £12.95, concs. available.

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