Latinx visual artist and filmmaker Pilar Mata Dupont presents a vivid exploration of intergenerational storytelling and the fragmentation of memory in Las Hormigas/The Ants – her first major solo exhibition of new work in Australia, at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) from 28 October 2022 – 8 January 2023.
Influenced by her background and upbringing in the settler-colonial states of Brunei, Argentina and Australia, Mata Dupont works with dark, absurdist humour to reflect on her family’s complicated past, memory fatigue, colonial anxiety, and how trauma manifests over large geographical and temporal distances.
Living and working between Rotterdam, Netherlands and Boorloo (Perth) Australia, Mata Dupont’s work has been exhibited worldwide. Las Hormigas/The Ants will be the most ambitious iteration of her ongoing and highly personal body of work in which she attempts to distil and reconcile varying interpretations of her family’s histories and memories of 20th-century Argentina.
“Las Hormigas/The Ants has been simmering in the background of my practice for nearly a decade, only emerging into the public sphere through fragments of video, performance, and writing,” said Pilar Mata Dupont.
“They say don’t make work about your family unless you really need to, and I think the challenges of weaving such a difficult time in history in Argentina with intimate, personal memories and my family’s oral histories and testimonies has meant that I needed that time for the project to mature. I’m thrilled to be presenting it at PICA, in my hometown.”
With a practice spanning video, performance, installation, and photography, Mata Dupont’s works play out the complex, constantly unfolding process of remembering, forgetting, and rewriting history.
The exhibition debuts a new performance and video installation – Las Hormigas – drawing from the artist’s rich archive of her family’s history, assembled over a period of almost ten years. Happening every Saturday until 17 December, visitors will be able to watch an ever-evolving, ever-changing performance take place in PICA’s galleries.
Three unreliable narrators will play members of the artist’s family, constantly changing roles, as they attempt to piece together testimonies of a past mediated through Mata Dupont’s auto-fictive screenplay, interweaving elements of family drama and experimental, absurdist performance.
Presented in the adjoining galleries is La Maruja (2021) – a powerful series of large-scale photographs and a single-channel video, continuing her theatrical and cinematic explorations of magic realism, memory, trauma, motherhood, and the body.
PICA Curator Sarah Wall said: “We’re really excited to be working with Pilar on what will be the largest presentation of her ongoing project exploring her family’s histories and memories of 20th-century Argentina.”
“Alongside recent work, PICA’s central gallery will become a stage for a new improvisational performance – Las Hormigas – written and directed by Pilar and developed with a team of local collaborators. Forms of looping and fragmentation will appear across the exhibition and performance, linking Pilar’s new and recent work and acting as a metaphor for the process of remembering itself.”
Information for Media
Publicist Tiki Menegola | firstname.lastname@example.org | +61 467 227 822
Pilar Mata Dupont (1981, Boorloo/Perth) is an Argentinean-Australian filmmaker and artist living and working in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Her art practice encompasses video, photography, and performance with a cinematic focus. She has shown her work in spaces such as Secession, Vienna; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei; Seoul Museum of Art; Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart; TENT, Rotterdam; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide; and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, USA. In 2015, she won the Plymouth Contemporary Open, UK, and a residency prize at the 19th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil in São Paulo, Brazil. In 2010, she won the Basil Sellers Art Prize with Tarryn Gill. She received her Master’s degree from the Dutch Art Institute in 2016. Pilar is represented by Moore Contemporary.
The Story of Las Hormigas (The Ants)
Las Hormigas leads with a family saga. The story centres on a family relative, then a young girl, picnicking with her family on the banks of a river. Its idyllic beginnings soon give way to more sinister tones. Abandoned by her brothers and cousins who have gone to play, her father, a military officer, senses her loneliness and assigns her with an important task: to cut encroaching ants in half with her mother’s sewing needle to prevent them from stealing the family’s lunch.
This story provides an important, symbolic memory for the exhibition. While personalising the tender relationship the young girl had with her military officer father, it also serves as a sombre presage. The young girl would grow up to become a member of guerrilla groups during Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’. Ruling between 1976 to 1983, the Argentinian military junta kidnapped, tortured, and executed thousands of suspected ‘dissidents’, many of them in their late teens and early twenties. Mata Dupont draws a connection between the child’s task of systematically cutting ants in two with the paranoid, brutal acts perpetrated by the government, and with her relative’s affliction many years later when, after years of hiding from the government, psychosomatic paralysis down one side of her body (triggered by extreme stress) transformed her into the metaphorical ant split in two.
Exhibitions Opening: Las Hormigas/The Ants & A Puzzlement
Thursday 27 October | 6–8:30pm
Celebrate the opening of Latinx artist Pilar Mata Dupont’s highly theatrical, autofictive exhibition Las Hormigas/The Ants, alongside A Puzzlement by Boorloo (Perth) based artist Nathan Beard – a mischievous reflection on Thai diasporic identity through archival artefacts and pop culture imagery.
With Kambarang (October & November) seeing the return of warm nights, cool off with a free* early bird drink and enjoy music by local DJ artist and producer Lia T.
*While stocks last
Performance: Las Hormigas
Saturdays | 29 October – 17 December | 2–3pm
Every Saturday, watch an ever-evolving, ever-changing performance in PICA’s Ground Floor Galleries as part of Pilar Mata Dupont’s Las Hormigas/The Ants.
Three unreliable narrators play members of the artist’s family, constantly changing roles, as they attempt to piece together testimonies of a past mediated through Mata Dupont’s auto-fictive screenplay, interweaving elements of family drama, and experimental, absurdist performance
With new scenes added and removed each week, Las Hormigas depicts a live negotiation in contested, half-remembered memories. Visitors will be able to watch an open rehearsal and preparation from 11am every Saturday, ahead of the performance.
Panel Discussion: A Las Hormigas/To the Ants
Saturday 12 November | 1–2pm
In response to Pilar Mata Dupont’s new exhibition, Las Hormigas/The Ants, Latinx artists Paola Bórquez Arce, Caro Duca, and Pilar Mata Dupont explore intergenerational trauma and how it plays out in our daily lives.
The panel will discuss their individual practices and research, speaking about resilient bodies, and autobiographical theatre. The discussion will be followed by the performance, Las Hormigas.
About the Panel
Paola Bórquez Arce is a researcher, singer, and performer with experience in the advocacy of women’s rights and cultural equity. She has a Bachelor’s in Psychology, a Master’s in Population Studies, and is currently a PhD candidate in Biological Anthropology where she studies the intergenerational effect of women’s life experiences on their children’s height in rural East Timor. In addition, she is leading the WA Stories research project at the Centre for Stories which aims to uncover the untold stories of underrepresented groups who are living in our state. Paola is also a core member of Espacio Latinx, a local arts collective of Latin-American people, and a performer at Teatro Papalote, a Mexican-led performing group that produces theatre shows in Spanish.
Caro Duca (they/them) is an Argentinian theatre maker, performer, producer and inclusivity advocate who lives and plays on Noongar boodja. They have a passion for supporting artists and communities telling their stories. They are the creative director of Teatro Latinx Perth, an artist collective that shares Latinx Australian experiences in unconventional ways. They are also part of WAAPA’s Equity and Inclusion working group and the City of Perth’s LGBTQAI+ advisory group. When they are not working in theatre or advocacy, you can find them watching or playing soccer. Caro works at the Blue Room, Perth, as a Community Engagement Producer.
Image: Pilar Mata Dupont, La Maruja: La Mano, 2021, photo print, acrylic face mounted on aluminium, 120 x 90cm, photographer production by Tony Nathan at Studio OPPA, image courtesy the artist and MOORE CONTEMPORARY