School of Art Gallery
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg Canada
Reception and Artist Talk Friday June 22nd
This work began after I started researching the 1973 Chilean military coup. I learned that the military would take the bodies of their victims up in helicopters and throw them on the peaks of the Andes Mountains, into the Pacific Ocean or onto the vast emptiness of the Atacama Desert in order to dispose of the evidence of their crimes.
The description of the bodies thrown onto the Andes, in particular, reminded me of the human sacrifices made by the pre-Columbian Inca people who once inhabited the area. However, this time the sacrifice was made to political dogma instead of for religious reasons. But both sacrifices were made to maintain the power of the ruling classes so the parallels, to my mind at least, are poignant.
The cross forms, which vary in size and shape, are constructed from terracotta and porcelain. These white bone-like forms are wrapped in terracotta bindings impressed with the texture of fabric, referencing the burial shrouds found in the few mass graves to which the military eventually admitted and also to the Incan mummies found in the Andes.
The Inca carefully wrapped their sacrifices before offering them to the sky, demonstrating their preciousness. My meditative act of binding these cross forms in strips of material is essential to their formation as it represents the care that should have been given to the violated dead.
The cenotaph that emerged from my process honours those that were silenced, those who were exiled – and the endurance of those who remained behind.
MONICA MERCEDES MARTINEZ is a mixed media object maker with ceramics playing an intrinsic role in her artistic practice. As a South American who grew up on the Canadian Prairies, she uses her practice to facilitate discussion about the historical foundations that we exploit to define who we are and where we belong.
For Monica Mercedes Martinez’s MFA show, “everyone is fallen except us fallen...” she utilizes her innate sense of materials and experimental processes to explore events that lead to the Chilean coup in 1973. Her exhibition showcases a large sculpture which is the result of years of research and experimentation.