INTERVIEW BY KIKI VALDES
MARIANA MONTEAGUDO is a Miami based Venezuelan artist who has been working her series of doll sculptures over the last decade. Her latex, ceramic and mixed-media dolls are intriguing and fascinating. Her artwork shows interest in a wide range of expressions , from the pre-Columbian aesthetics, to fashion , tv pop culture, Japanese manga and mass-market toys. We had a chance to talk to her recently.
There is something sinister yet innocent about the doll sculptures you create. What do they mean to you?
They mean everything to me. I cannot conceive waking up without an idea of how I will improve a piece, or how what I do during the day will contribute to my work. At the beginning the doll was just a pretext, a way of expression; after 15 years I’ve discovered that it's much more than that. For me the image of the classic doll depicts an ideal of beauty and innocence of childhood, but is somehow an over-dimension of tenderness that often touches the monstrous. My characters are inspired in dolls, but at the end they are a reflection of human expressions and emotions. Is a subtle sense of palpitation what I am looking for; is the constant search of that “thing” you cannot quite explain with words.
What's the process of making them? How do you come up with the various expressions on the faces?
It starts with an inspiration, it can be virtually anything. I usually conceive a group of pieces as if it was a cast from a theater play; every character has a specific role in the story. For instance, this time I have been obsessed with the classic images of the circus and the 1930’s Tod Browning’s film “Freaks”. A heartbreaking story of the human dramas within a traveling circus. So my new group is taking a lot from this story, and from the circus world. I begin with a theme, a starting point; then it evolves by itself, opening new windows to other reflections and sources of inspirations.
Are you into toy collecting?
Oh yes, I love collecting dolls. In fact I could say that when it comes to my work, I have the personality of a collector. That pervasive feeling of nostalgia (and an obsessive sense of accumulation) of collectors permeates into my work.
What medium is one you would like to explore with your work that has not happened yet?
Inflatable sculptures, fiberglass, resin, bronze, so many things yet to explore.
Anything coming up?
Yes, a new exciting group of pieces. I am currently producing approximately 20 pieces for my representing gallery in Europe.
Lowest point in your art career was when?
When I moved to the US and had to figure out a new way to make my sculptures. It was hard to adapt myself to a whole new environment. It is not easy to get out of your comfort zone and start from square one. But ultimately everything is for a good reason, and an opportunity to open your mind to new things.
Highest point in your career so far has been?
It is hard to pinpoint a high point in my career. In some ways, I consider my work to be in constant evolution. So, every new set of pieces is a new highest point. But I guess that my 2 solo shows in Madrid in 2002 and 2004, and my participation in the 2010 Sao Paolo Art fair have a special place in my heart. You don’t get to be alongside with great contemporary masters like Damien Hirst, Vik Muniz or Joana Vasconcelos every day. Also I am very proud of being part of collections such as the MOLAA Museum of Latin American Art in California, the Everson Museum in New York, and The César Gaviria Trujillo collection (former President of Colombia and Secretary General of the Organization of American States).