Connect with us

Events & Entertainment

Sirius Arts: DANIELA ORTIZ They Will Burn with the Flame of the Mother’s Torment and in Ashes Transform

Published

on

Peruvian, Cusco-based artist Daniela Ortiz examines nationalism, class and gender divides, racism, and the construction of identity amid the contemporary legacies of colonialism and patriarchy. The exhibition “They Will Burn with the Flame of the Mother’s Torment and in Ashes Transform” features works concerned with racist and patriarchal attitudes and practices, both historical and contemporary.

The core of this exhibition is a new series of banners commissioned by SIRIUS and made in collaboration with Peruvian women of Indigenous origin. In each piece, Ortiz relates a historical religious painting to contemporary challenges faced by mothers and children, dealing with misreadings and appropriations of biblical references that have subsequently led to the oppression of women.


Daniela Ortiz, They Will Burn with the Flame of the Mother’s Torment and in Ashes Transform, 2021; installation view, SIRIUS, 2021. Photograph: Brian Mac Domhnaill, SIRIUS

Ortiz took her inspiration from stories of the Magdalene Laundries—the 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 research 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—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.


Daniela Ortiz, They Will Burn with the Flame of the Mother’s Torment and in Ashes Transform, 2021; installation view, SIRIUS, 2021. Photograph: Brian Mac Domhnaill, SIRIUS

In this banner, the Virgin Mary holds a representation of a Magdalene Laundry in Cork (established by the Good Shepherd Sisters); there, between 1870 and 1977, female sex workers and unmarried mothers, among other “fallen women,” were forced to work and frequently suffered abuse. The Virgin Mary sets fire to the building—a reference to the fact that she herself would have been considered an adolescent with child, and might well have been sent to one of these institutions if she had lived in this period. The child next to her holds a representation of the Directorate General for Child and Adolescent Care in Catalonia, a state agency that regularly removes children from their mothers. The organization is likewise depicted as being on fire.

The nameless heads depict the authorities who impose forced adoption, and are intended to reference in turn the unmarked mass graves of children and women that have been connected to the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland. In the background is a depiction of Kinsale Road Accommodation Centre in Cork, one of the controversial temporary housing structures that hosts people seeking asylum in Ireland while their request and status is being assessed by the government. That image relates to the lack of autonomy among mothers and children in such places, through factors such as not being allowed to work, or, at the most basic level, not being able to choose what they eat.

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

On view until 19 February 2022.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending Locally