Daniela Ortiz

Daniela Ortiz (Solo show): "They Will Burn with the Flame of the Mother’s Torment and in Ashes Transform", Cobh, Ireland. 3.11.21 > 19.2.22

SIRIUS in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland presents an exhibition by the artist Daniela Ortiz featuring works concerned with racist and patriarchal attitudes and practices, both historical and contemporary. The core of the presentation is a commissioned, new series of banners informed by research conducted in Ireland and made in collaboration with Peruvian women of Indigenous origin (Peru is the artist’s native country). Other works in the exhibition include The ABC of Racist Europe (2017), which manifests the exhibition’s themes through the lenses of European Union migration policies.

Ortiz examines nationalism, class and gender divides, racism, and the construction of identity amid patriarchy and the legacies of colonialism. She specifically addresses morality codes, citizenship, and border control systems as enacted through the exclusion—and sometimes exploitation—of migrant communities, and racialized people more broadly. Her key projects explore narratives of struggle against mechanisms of power, including patriarchy and white supremacy. She is known for using her own lived experience as subject matter, for instance motherhood, displacement, feminist engagement, and the production of deviant and insurgent subjectivity.

The new series of banners deals with misreadings and appropriations of biblical references that have subsequently led to the subjugation of women. In each piece, Ortiz relates a historical religious painting to contemporary challenges faced by mothers and children. She took her inspiration from stories of the Magdalene Laundries—Catholic Church-led, workhouse-style operations that existed in Ireland from 1765 to 1996. These institutions were intended to house “fallen women” such as unmarried mothers, prostitutes, and young girls who had been abused but effectively imprisoned them, forcing their labor and isolating them from their communities. Ortiz’s inquiry led her to investigate state family policies—particularly custody laws authorizing the removal of children from their mothers—as well as other intellectual and sociological references, from religion to the Western pictorial tradition.

The title of these pieces (after which the exhibition is named)—They Will Burn with the Flame of the Mother’s Torment and in Ashes Transform—recalls the ancient custom of women being burned at the stake for sinning or witchery. It suggests that from the ashes of those who have suffered and died in institutions, from the flames of religious obscurantism, women will rise like phoenixes. The mother’s torment refers to the suffering of those whose children are forcibly removed—an action that is disproportionately applied to racialized mothers.

Ortiz made The ABC of Racist Europe in collaboration with local single mothers from refugee backgrounds based in Middlesbrough, England. The group decided how to illustrate the issues that have affected their lived experience in England in the context of their asylum-seeking process, especially their concerns for their children. The work is a series of prints originally conceived and produced as a children’s book responding to nineteenth-century racist pedagogies. A classic example is An ABC for Baby Patriots by Mrs. Ernest Ames, an 1899 children’s book whose images and blurbs demonstrate the imperialist and xenophobic values of Victorian Britain. Ortiz rewrote An ABC for Baby Patriots against its Eurocentric and white supremacist worldviews; her work is particularly an educational material on anti-racist and anti-colonial resistance, and suggests that many of the same prejudices exist now as when Ames’s children's book was published more than a century ago. She reveals this type of children’s book as not only a tool for learning but also a means of instilling racist ideals and expressing the legacies of colonialism among the young, contributing to the biased Western imagination of the “other” that still prevails today.

Ortiz finds art useful for her political investigations. She is not only alert to narratives of oppression but also collaborates with others through activism, bringing practices of emancipation into effect. All of the featured works in this exhibition relate to spirituality, iconography, and knowledge through which the artist sheds light on human belief systems outside of the Western mindset, as well as persistent social injustices across the globe.

Curated by Miguel Amado, director of SIRUS. Produced by SIRIUS.


Source: https://www.e-flux.com/announcements/428899/daniela-ortizthey-will-burn-with-the-flame-of-the-mother-s-torment-and-in-ashes-transform/


Tags: exhibition

Daniela Ortiz, They Will Burn with the Flame of the Mother’s Torment and in Ashes Transform, 2021. Oil on canvas and mixed media, dimensions variable. Photo: Brian Mac Domhnaill. Courtesy of the artist and SIRIUS.