"Todas Somos Todas", Museum of Contemporary Art Queretaro (MACQ)

October 26, 2021 | Jessica VR

 The Museum of Contemporary Art in Querétaro, México, invited five female artists to collaborate on an exhibition to contemplate the role that women have in society. Curator Miryann Díaz proposed a series of dialogues where the five artists could get to know their personal stories and reflect on their role as female artists. The result was Todas Somos Todas, an exhibition that showcases the artists' perspective on the labels placed on women and their understanding of who they are and their value. Todas Somos Todas is built with video performances and photographs to reflect on contemporary social issues that affect women.

Among the selected artists is Mariceu Ethal, a Mexican artist born and raised in Querétaro. Through photography, she found a way to express her emotions, transmit her story, and understand the world. Mariceu traveled to Cuba and stayed with an elderly couple, Ana and Enzo, whose only daughter had migrated to Europe looking for independence and adventure. Mariceu shares her experience living for one week in the couple's house, stating that she could feel the absence of their daughter and that she wanted to fill the space that was left. The result of this experience was a series of photographs titled Iriana in honor of their daughter.
For this exhibition, she chose three photographs that belong to her Iriana Series. It is a story of absence, of feeling lost and vulnerable, and of learning to transcend.

Mariceu Erthal. Self-portrait Inside Iriana’s Bedroom.
From the Iriana Series, 2019. Digital photography. 28 x 43 cm.

The first photograph depicts Mariceu resting on Iriana's bed, with her eyes open, looking at the distance. The background is black, and the only light that illuminates her hand and face comes from the right side. She is also wearing a black tank top, and the bedding where she lays is of a dark blue. Her vague expression, the dark background, and the selected colors make this scene convey loss. One can only wonder if she is reflecting upon something terrible, or perhaps remembering an unfortunate event, for she has a vacant expression. It is almost as if she is dead or as if she is taking her last breaths.

Mariceu Erthal. Lights and memories. From the Iriana Series, 2019.
Digital photography. 28 x 43 cm.

The second photograph shows a table lamp with flower decorations placed on a bedside table. Next to the light is a plane object with a picture of a clock that marks 1:35. Since it is all dark and Mariceu is lying on a bed, one can deduce that it is early morning.
The wall is the same dark blue as the bedding, and the nightstand is black, inverting the colors that were first presented in the first picture. The image of the clock is a representation of the passage of time. The lamp could mean hope because it is the only source of light that illuminates the room. Now the viewer can infer that the light illuminating Mariceu’s body comes from this lamp.

Mariceu Erthal. Self-portrait Inside Iriana’s Bedroom. From the Iriana Series, 2019.
Digital photography. 28 x 43 cm.

We find Mariceu again in the third picture. She is still resting on Iriana's bed. However, she has turned around, and as a result, the viewer can only see her naked back. Since she is hiding her face, that feeling of nostalgia and sadness is gone, and now one can conclude that she is finally sleeping.

Mariceu Erthal. From the Iriana Series, 2019. Digital photography.

Through these photographs, Mariceu not only portrayed the couple's grieving story but, in the process, recognized her personal story. The pictures reflect on Mariceu's childhood and the relationship she had with her absent parents. The purpose of this project was to depict how we can live with people (parents, siblings, grandparents) for many years and still realize that we do not fully know them. That at times we take people for granted and do not realize their value until they are gone.

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