Critics’ Picks

View of “Ximena Zomosa: Anónimas,” 2021.

View of “Ximena Zomosa: Anónimas,” 2021.

Santiago

Ximena Zomosa

Galería Concreta del Centro Cultural Matucana
Matucana 100
March 9–April 18, 2021

Upon entering Ximena Zomosa’s exhibition “Anónimas,” the viewer is immediately dwarfed by two giant housedresses suspended from equally oversize hangers so that their skirts spread out over the floor. Across the room are ten more hangers, all draped with women’s garments measuring more than sixteen feet long and six feet wide and arranged in two rows that fill the space. It feels as if we’ve invaded the closet of a giantess. Or rather, of many giantesses, as each dress suggests a distinct occupation or identity: maid, schoolgirl, housewife, secretary, homegrown produce seller, a profession common among the papay (“elderly women,” in the Mapudungun language) in of southern Chile. The last garment, hung slightly higher than the rest, is a turquoise tunic adorned with sparkling beads, devised by the artist to represent a character she calls the Goddess of Water, dedicated to that fundamental resource of life.

Zomosa has been producing these outfits since 1997, displaying them in exhibitions and public spaces. In this installation, they are accompanied by wall text discussing the various trades the costumes correspond to and the sites where they have previously been exhibited. What gets overlooked, unfortunately, is the collaborative dimension of these works, whose immense scale requires the participation of many (anonymous) women. Between monumental sculpture and domestic craft, each dress is a homage to both working women and collective labor and an invitation to reconsider the uniforms—official or otherwise—that classify, standardize, and assign us our place in society.      

Translated from Spanish by Michele Faguet