Intertwining artistic practice and political activism since the 1970s, Mónica Mayer expanded the traditional definitions and scope of what defines an artwork: “The most important thing feminist art has given me is the understanding that an artist’s work is more than producing art works. Doing research on women’s art, writing about them in my newspaper column in El Universal or publishing books about us, teaching, protesting and supporting other women artists is part of my work.” Trained as a visual artist at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Mexico City, Mayer received her master’s degree in Sociology of Art at Goddard College during the 1980s with a thesis entitled “Feminist Art: An Effective Political Tool”. Also in the 1980s, she participated in the Feminist Studio Workshop at the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles. In 1983, she and Maris Bustamante founded the first feminist art collective in Mexico, Polvo de Gallina Negra (Black Hen Powder).
El Tendedero (The Clothesline) is an installation composed of a pink clothes line, wooden clothes pegs and hundreds of pink slips. Mayer invited 800 women of different ages, social classes and professions to answer the question, “As a woman, the thing I most hate about my city is...” Most answers alluded to sexual violence experienced in the streets. During the exhibition, many other women spontaneously added their answers to the clothes line.
Performance: 1978, Museo de Arte Moderno de la Ciudad de Mexico
Courtesy Mónica Mayer