Actions to Abolish the Desire

Throughout her career the artist Sandra Monterroso has worked in very diverse media including performance, video art, drawing, prints and installations. All these genres are represented at the exhibition that The 9.99 Gallery opens now under the title Actions to Abolish the Desire.


Although there is a great diversity of media in the production of the artist, several unifying characteristics persist in her work. Monterroso maintains a constant interest in the representation of power relations focusing in different aspects such as cultural and historical subjects, with some references to colonialism and postcolonialism, and portraying diverse topics related to identity and gender issues.


In addition to showing a thematic thread if we focus on the performatic work of Monterroso there is a tendency to portray violence and obsession performed by the protagonists of the actions, in most of the cases the artist herself. In the works of art with clear references to gender issues such as Mac/ Guilt (2006) in which the artist destroys clay pots and in Demolition woman (2010) in which some pots to make tamales are flatten by a construction truck driven by the Monterroso, the pieces show a repetitive action that appears to have a liberating, and at the same time, subversive purpose since in both cases the elements that are destroyed are linked to the domestic female world that has been imposed throughout the history. The artist translates the violent quality of the performative pieces into her paper works that sometimes function as documentation of her actions but can also be presented as autonomous works of art. The documentation of Demolition woman, for example, presents the traces of the flatten and distorted pots. The distortion transferred to paper transforms the objects into the holder of the inflicted violence and paradoxically, gives an organic quality to the work.


Another significant piece in the exhibition that the artist successfully translates into drawings is the installation Gordian Knot (2011), formed by a series of jumbled knots accompanied by a machete with the inscription “it is easier to cut it than to untied it”. Although the title of the piece is related to a Greek legend and the sentence is commonly used to refer to something difficult to resolve, the element of the machete locates the meaning of the work of art in relation to sociohistorical issues specifically related to Guatemala or more generally to Latin America pointing out to violence as a resolution.


The use of elements from the Mayan culture is another important characteristic in the work of Sandra Monterroso. The huipiles and the local textiles, for example, are part of the installation Spine (2012) and of Aj Camisel / Killer (2009) while the indigenous dialects are utilized in several of the video art pieces such as Meditating the Mistake (2008) and Your Tortillas my Love / Lix Cua Rarho (2004), indicating the importance of the Mayan world to understand a very complex identity within the history and culture of her country.


The exhibition journeys ten years of production showing the capacity of the artist to transit from direct pieces to more introspective works of art such as the one that gives the exhibition its title. In Actions to Abolish the Desire (2011) Sandra Monterroso uses her own body to produce a choreographic, cathartic and obsessive action and translates that tension into small charcoal drawings that refer to the 260 days of the sacred calendar. The different levels of meaning in this piece – from the religious to the intimate, from the choreographic to the identitary – shows the degree of complexity of the creative world of the artist.


Idurre Alonso