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«Restos-Traces», exhibition by Marta Pérez García at the Phillips Collection, DC

March 31 – August 28, 2022 at the Phillips Collection, DC

Restos-Traces presents Marta Pérez García’s most recent body of work, which was created during the COVID-19 pandemic and addresses the increase in domestic violence due to stay-at- home orders, especially toward women and children. It consists of female torsos constructed with handmade paper and added elements such as wire, nails, metal spikes, hair, teeth, and old film negatives. They embody a range of human conditions, from fragility and vulnerability to strength and survival. The Spanish-English title Restos-Traces (restos means ruins or remaining) alludes to the recollection and preservation of memories through visual storytelling, in this case memories of brutality, abuse, and trauma. The torsos are all modeled after standard female mannequins, but they differ in appearance and expression. What they share is an accentuated spine that symbolizes resistance, tenacity, and continued existence.

The torsos are paired with two works from the Phillips’s permanent collection: Francis Bacon’s Study of a Figure in a Landscape (1952)—a painting that emanates loss, anxiety, and frailness— and Annette Messager’s My Little Effigies (1989-90), an installation with stuffed animals holding pictures of body parts with handwritten texts expressing emotions such as anger, laughter, and reconciliation. Together, the works of Bacon, Messager, and Pérez García intensify an array of physical and psychological states, from victimization to endurance, detachment to companionship.

Originally from Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Marta Pérez García (b. 1965) was trained as a printmaker at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University, Philadelphia, where she received an MFA. Her artworks are in the collections of the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, and the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, among others. She was awarded a Public Art Building Communities Grant in 2018 for I’m Gonna Get You, a large mixed-media installation on gender violence exhibited at the Reeves Center.
Recently, Pérez García was awarded the 2021 Vita Paper Arts Residency at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Hyattsville, Maryland.


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