Carlos Motta, Artist

Solo Exhibition | Beloved Martina… at Mercer Union, Toronto, April 14- June 5, 2016

April 22, 2016

Carlos Motta: Beloved Martina…

14 April 2016 – 4 June 2016
Opening Reception 14 April 2016 7pm

Mercer Union is delighted to present the exhibition Beloved Martina… by artist Carlos Motta including works by Arisleyda Dilone, Pidgeon Pagonis and Del LaGrace Volcano.Artist Talk: Thursday 14 April 2016, 6.30PM

Carlos Motta is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work draws upon political history in an attempt to create counter narratives that recognize suppressed histories, communities, and identities. Motta has an ongoing preoccupation with democratic representation and the repression of individual and collective civil liberties. Promoting the act of self-representation, he creates works that question the writing of history, the construction of political memory, and the normative discourses of sexuality and gender.

Beloved Martina…, Motta’s first solo exhibition in Canada, presents a series of works that reflect on the restrictive nature of the gender binary and its own mythologizing forces, and focuses on the historical and ongoing repression of intersex identities. Presented in the front gallery, Motta’s mesmerizing film Deseos/تابغر [Desires] (2015) forms the starting point of the exhibition. Weaving across expanses of water, land, history, language, and cultures, the film traces the epistolary correspondence of two women at the beginning of the nineteenth century, one in Suesca, Colombia, and the other in Beirut, to engage with the social, political and epistemological possibilities of desire. Deseos/تابغر narrates the stories of Martina who was prosecuted for being a “hermaphrodite” and of Nour, a woman who is forced to marry her female lover’s brother. The intimate communication between the two women reveals the ways in which medicine, law, religion, and cultural tradition shaped dominant discourses of the gendered and sexual body.

Parallel to this video installation, in the back gallery, Motta presents a new series of 3D sandstone prints that depict the mythological figure of the “hermaphrodite,” based on sculptures from Greek and Roman antiquity and the Renaissance, and photographs from the late nineteenth century. Exhibited in a museum-like installation, the sculptures confront the institutional drive to classify and define with its authoritative gaze. Motta’s layering of stories is not just contained within the past: included in the exhibition are a series of video portraits part of Motta’s oral history project Gender Talents (2015) where intersex activists Jim Ambrose, Tiger Devore, David Iris Cameron, Hida Viloria and Sean Saifa M. Wall speak of their battles around advocating for the recognition of intersex identities and politics.

Presiding over the gallery is Self-Portrait: Blue Beard (1996) by Del LaGrace Volcano, a photographic self-portrait that defies viewers’ assumptions and expectations about gender performance and expression. Also included is Arisleyda Dilone’s film Mami y Yo yi mi Gallito (2015) which focuses on the vulnerable relationship between a mother and her intersex daughter and Pidgeon Pagonis’ photographic series Children’s Memorial Hospital Killa [CMHK] (2015) that depicts their singular protest in front of the hospital where they underwent numerous medical procedures as “corrective” measures during their childhood.

From semi-fictional to historical representation to self-representation, Beloved Martina…layers narratives of past and present to question gender norms, desires and the potential of real freedom through a politics of self-representation, resistance and critical difference.

This exhibition is co-presented in partnership with the Images Festival, April 14 – 23, 2016. For more information visit

With special thanks to Objex Unlimited

Deseos/تابغر [Desires] (2015) was commissioned and produced by Council (France) and co-produced by Hordaland Kunstsenter (Norway), MALBA, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Argentina), Röda Sten Konsthall (Sweden), Galeria Filomena Soares (Portugal), Mor.Charpentier Galerie (France) and with further support from Ashkal Alwan (Lebanon), DICRéAM (France) and the Göteborg International Biennal for Contemporary Art (Sweden).

more info here