The uterus is a restless animal, which if not fertilized in time it moves through the woman body causing havoc wherever it goes: palpitations, seizures… It was that simple the diagnosis that doctors and philosophers such as Hippocrates and Plato attributed to what they called “hysteria”, a Greek term referring to the womb.
And centuries go by… and psychoanalysis continued to relate unsatisfied female sexuality with “hysterical” disorders.
Actually, the bizarre history of the uterus deserves a museum, just was is undertaking Fatima Mazmouz in Twin Gallery. And she does it taking this metamorphic symbol, testimony to the male appropriation of the female body, but shifting the focus from the biological issue to the social, from the neurological to the political, from the individual trauma to the collective traumatism.
Her “wandering wombs” invade colonial posters from the Spanish and French Protectorate of Morocco. Officers marveled at the fallopian tubes, military demanding silence (Tas tois) their faces covered in fine Arabic-inspired lace made with hundreds of small wombs, the same as the vintage postcards of Tetuan and Chefchaouen. Graphic colonial propaganda invaded by the wombs of my father, as Mazmouz baptizes this series.
Of Berber origin, Fatima grew up between Casablanca and Paris. She understands identity as an embroidery of integrations, first of Arab culture, after Western culture. A somewhat frayed embroidery, because the assimilations are not harmonious, you have to put patches on the breaks.
With her characteristic irony, she sounds out of the colonized body, going through various hysteric disorders (the so-called “conversions”, phobias, speech disorders…) The uterus, from being a sacred niche to a desecrated territory, Mazmouz builds its museum around memory but also interrogating the future of the power relations that write the history of that uterine space: from the hired womb to the future of the artificial womb, from surrogate mothers to transhumanism … Will this be liberating or alienating?
In previous works, relating to pregnancy and abortion, Fatima had already been torn between nature and culture. Being pregnant, she asked herself about the strangeness she felt towards her own body, fugitive of itself, turned an instinctive animal, with complex emotions set off by hormones. She deconstructed and rejected the archetype of the pregnant woman as an emblem of mother earth or mother country.
Mazmouz juxtaposes identity symbols to point to “cranial traumas”, or mixes Christian and pagan iconographies, as when in “A corps rompu” she portrays herself as a Virgin of Guadalupe with a border of kitchen knives on a blood red background. This image is saying to us that the same homicidal hypocrisy runs through religions and patriarchates, forcing self-sacrifice.
But the uterus rebels against its history, due to its polymorphism becomes elusive, doesn’t allow to be invaded, the ovaries are triggers of a revolver that (as in Armes de destruction 2017) Fatima will not stop shooting against the relations of domination.
Fatima Mazmouz. Hystera, Pequeño Museo del Útero
se puede visitar en Twin Gallery, Madrid
hasta el 21 de abril de 2018