As a nod to Genesis and its 7 days of Creation, Max Ernst summarized in “a week of kindness” his vision of human brutality. Made in the convulsive interwar period, he allegorized on the darker instincts. Its subversive power lay in the perfect blend between fragments from nineteenth-century publications of all kinds, from melodramatic novels to extracts from natural science journals.
This poetic and poignant way of decompose reality seduced María María Acha-Kutscher, and it impelled to recompose by herself fragments of history. Her digital photomontages neither show the fissures between the cuts, immersing us in a past where fable and document, dream and uchrony, merge.
In 365 days (included in the XV Cordoba Biennial of Photography) symbolically enlarges the temporal range in her photographic review of moments from the past that in turn are part of a larger project, Womankind, epigraph that leaves no room for doubts about who rewrite that alternative history of humanity.
Although the officiality of the term “history” makes it unfit to connote the intimate nature of these fragmentary narratives, which better would be call them “micro-stories.” Often the artist starts from her own past, veiled biographical aspects, or at least exhaled memories of an essentially feminine collective unconscious.
Because, for her, rummage archives and trunks of old photographs was also a way of removing the nebula from memories that received the cultural mix of her origins, mixing the creole with the stories explained by the exiled grandmother of Germany.
Hence, in her photographic compositions, these traditionally segregated worlds coexist, as when she shows us Africans ladies lying in elegant canopy beds or smoking a cigar during the table talk, in luxurious colonial houses. It’s not that the maidservants have usurped the role of the white ladies, but are part of another possible story, just as the hairy and crippled women acquire dignity by removing them from the circus tent to which they were relegated.
And on the whole this is the process for entire series: women don’t usurp the places assigned to men but manage to find their own. Although they sometimes run the risk of being lost as in a maze of mirrors between models of typified femininity placed into abyss: in busts, statuettes, paintings … that make up conceptual matrioshkas, pictures within the picture, an assortment of fictions within one’s own fiction, of women being watched by themselves.
Whether they are nuns, laborers, kiosk attendants or ladies reading next to the window of sumptuous rooms, they reinvent themselves by challenging the historical representations that have been made of them.
In several of her projects (Herstorymuseum, Womankind, or in the Antimuseo that co-directs with Tomás Ruiz-Rivas), María María has given to the concept of archive an open, organic, subjective and extemporaneous quality, inverse to the orthodox vision of it as an objective reality, closed, impregnable, referring to an untouchable past, “archived”.
Conscious that history is construct, it is possible to refound it over and over again, even if it is in the deep down inside of each one, to mold it to our convictions and desires, to feel it as our own, because there is no future without past.
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