Critic’s Guide: Mexico City

  • 2016-02-29
  • Frieze Blog

With Maris Bustamante, conceptual artist, critic and activist Monica Mayer co-founded Mexico’s first feminist art collective in 1983. The group’s name, Polvo de Gallina Negra (Black Hen Powder), alluded to a herbal substance that could ‘protect us from the patriarchal magic which makes women disappear’.

For four decades, Mayer has channelled humour and rage into a vast body of work comprising collage, drawing, performance, video and text, a large proportion of which is on display at MUAC for the artist’s first ever retrospective. Titled ‘Si tiene dudas… pregunte’ (When in Doubt … Ask), the didactic exhibition feel less art historical, more simply historical with vitrines of printed ephemera, booklets of text, listening stations and a seemingly endless stream of wall text. That it still manages to engage despite its formulaic format is down to Mayer’s caustic wit and clear evidence of her social, political, and artistic bravery. If her art feels slightly out of place in MUAC’s vast white halls, it is probably because it is more at home in the streets and classroom.