Marta María Pérez
|Nombre||Marta María Pérez Bravo|
|Fecha de nacimiento||1959|
|Estudios universitarios||Instituto Superior de Arte de La Habana|
|País de nacimiento||Cuba|
|Ciudad de nacimiento||La Habana|
Marta María Pérez Bravo is a Cuban artist born in Havana in 1959. Through photography and video, she has investigated the ritual practices of Afro-Cuban traditions and their relationships with language and the body. Her work is in dialogue with performance, as her body has been a fundamental element in both her photographic and moving-image projects, which are in the cast of self-portraits. From her youth she has been one of the most influential contemporary Cuban artists in her own country and internationally, which is evident in her works’ appearance in exhibitions and the collections of numerous museums.
In 1984, Pérez completed her studies at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, specializing in painting. A few years later she became internationally known through several individual exhibitions at the Carrillo Gil Museum in Mexico, the Caracas Museum of Modern Art in Venezuela, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lima, Peru. In 1995, she moved from Cuba to the city of Monterrey. Her works are included in important contemporary art collections around the world, such as those of Madrid’ Reina Sofía Museum in Spain and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Australia in Sydney. Meanwhile, in Cuba, an anthological exhibition of her work since 1983 was presented at the National Fine Arts Museum in 2020.
In the mid-eighties, as a young artist, she presented one of her most powerful works in the series “Para concebir” (To Conceive), recognized for renewing the language of photography in Latin America. In this period of her career, motherhood became the vehicle for her visual work, as she experienced the intersection of the transformations of her body and the discourses and norms that prescribe maternal performance in Cuban culture.
The photographs in the series show the influence of Cuban conceptual artist Ana Mendieta and American photographer Cindy Sherman. As a young mother in 1987, she continued to explore this theme with the series “Recuerdos de nuestro bebé” (Memories of Our Baby).
In the following decade, the artist's career moved away from the autobiographical theme of motherhood towards the investigation of the feeling of loneliness as a human experience. This is expressed in works such as “Lo que allí se siente” (What Is Felt There) and “Todo lo tengo, todo me falta” (I’ve Got It All, I Lack It All). In this stage, she also dedicated works to representations of the Orishas, divinities of the Yoruba religion transported from Africa to Cuba and Brazil especially through the diasporic migration that occurred during the European occupation of the Americas. Some of these deities are the subject of her photographs: Eleggua, Yemayá, Ochún.
From 2000 onwards, Pérez produced video work consistently alongside her photographic work.
Characteristics of her work
Black and white photography is crucial in Marta María Pérez's work. In some of her projects, text written on the photographs points to the effective value of language in the Santeria tradition and is not simply a description or translation of the image. These images study the relationship between body and language, taking the artist's own body as a center for the compositions and building self-portraits through which she embodies other people whose religious and cultural experiences she makes visible.
In her approach to the popular cults of Cuba, Peréz has integrated exhaustive documentation with a proximity to the people who practice such rites. The results reflect her observations, but also her own experiences as carrier of her country's traditions. Her works refer to women's experience as desiring beings, who embody pain and social mandates in their role as the reproducers of life. As regards Santeria, there are also reflections on ritual, magic, superstition, and death as organizing elements in the world of the living.
In her video works, her body becomes an offering. This medium has allowed her to move from the gaze of the past, which comes across in her photographs, to visions of the present and future that, in any case, continue and arise from some of her photographic work.
- 1985: Para concebir (To Conceive), series
- 1987: : Recuerdos de nuestro bebé (Memories of Our Baby), series
- 1995: Lo que allí se siente (What Is Felt There)
- 1997: Yemayá, from the series Solo no se vive (We Do Not Live Alone)
- 2001: Nunca me abandona (It Never Forsakes Me)
- 2010: No son míos (They Are Not Mine), series
- 2011: Exvotos (Votives), series
- 2017: Peticiones (Petitions)
Works by Marta María Pérez in the Banco de la República Collections
|7.35 a.m. IV, from the series Para concebir (To Conceive)||1985||Reserve||Photography||AP1868|
|Estos me los dio la ceiba, su aire y su nacri dan vida (These Were Given to Me by the Ceiba Tree, its Air and its Nacri Give Life), from the series Para concebir (To Conceive)||1985||Reserve||Photography||AP1869|
|Te nace ahogado con el cordón I (Born to You Strangled by the Cord I), from the series Para concebir (To Conceive)||1985||Reserve||Photography||AP1865|
|No matar, ni ver matar animales III (To Not Kill Animals or Watch Them Being Killed III), from the series Para concebir (To Conceive)"||1985||Reserve||Photography||AP1867|
|Muchas venganzas se satisfacen en el hijo de una persona odiada II (Many Vengeances are Satisfied through the Child of a Hated Person II), from the series Para concebir (To Conceive)||1985||Reserve||Photography||AP1866|
- 1959 : Born in Havana, Cuba.
- 1979 : Completed visual arts studies at Academia de Artes Plásticas San Alejandro in Havana.
- 1984 : Completed art studies at the Instituto Superior de Arte in the same city.
- 1990 : Participated in the XXI Sao Paulo Biennial.
- 1998 : Received the Guggenheim Fellowship.
- 1999 : Decorated for her contributions to culture by the Cuban Ministry of Culture.
- 2003 : Participated in the exhibition Mapas abiertos. Fotografía Latinoamericana 1991-2002 (Open Maps)
- 2007 : Participated in the exhibition Caribbean Encounters at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and in the Milan Triennial.
- 2010 : Works exhibited in photo and video exhibitions in Austria and France.
- 2016-2018 : Participated in the collective exhibition Radical Women
- 2020 : The National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana presented the exhibition Firmeza (Firmness).
- En Bellas Artes, primera muestra antológica de Marta María Pérez Bravo, March 16, 2020: https://www.arteporexcelencias.com/es/noticias/en-bellas-artes-primera-muestra-antologica-de-marta-maria-perez-bravo
1.Molina, J. A. (2013). Un camino oscuro. Accessed at: https://martamariaperezbravo.com/un-camino-oscuro/
2.Molina, J. A. (2015). Marta María Pérez: Narración y ficción / Símbolo y verdad. Colección Daros Latinamerica. Accessed at: https://martamariaperezbravo.com/marta-maria-perez-narracion-y-ficcion-simbolo-y-verdad/
3.Palomo, A. (2015). La maternidad en la creación plástica femenina. El caso de Ana Álvarez-Errecalde. Un estudio narrativo a propósito de la elaboración de un discurso expositivo y su materialización. Vic, Universitat de Vic, Universitat Central de Catalunya.
Banco de la República Art Collection
- Visit the work 7.35 a.m. IV. From Marta María Pérez in 
- Visit the work Estos me los dio la ceiba, su aire y su nacri dan vida (These Were Given to Me by the Ceiba Tree, its Air and its Nacri Give Life), from the series Para concebir (To Conceive) From Marta María Pérez in 
- Visit the work Te nace ahogado con el cordón I (Born to You Strangled by the Cord I), from the series Para concebir (To Conceive) From Marta María Pérez in 
- Visit the work Muchas venganzas se satisfacen en el hijo de una persona odiada II (Many Vengeances are Satisfied through the Child of a Hated Person II), from the series Para concebir (To Conceive) From Marta María Pérez in 
1. Research and text: Oscar David Rodríguez, mediator of Banco de la República museums and collections, for Banrepcultural.
2.Review and editing: Inti Camila Romero Estrada and Diana Marcela Salas Solórzano. Public and Educational Services, Art and Other Collections Unit (UAOC).