Mariana Castillo Deball

Born 1975 in Mexico City, Mexico
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

White Bay Power Station

she bends to catch a feather of herself as she falls nr.26, 2022
she bends to catch a feather of herself as she falls nr.8, 2022
she bends to catch a feather of herself as she falls nr.18, 2022
she bends to catch a feather of herself as she falls nr.22, 2022
unique print on textile
Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Institut für Auslandsbeziehunge
Courtesy the artist

The Aztec ‘mother of the deities’ Coatlicue is represented in Mariana Castillo Deball’s work as a fragmented yet majestic figure. The fractal appearance of a multiplied Coatlicue recalls its central and fertile position within the cosmological matrix of the Aztec belief system and social order. However, Coatlicue’s presence in the ghostly halls of White Bay Power Station conveys a perspective on ruination, multiplied by two: an ancient world decimated by European colonial invasion and of the industrial era with its power station as a massive relic, destroyed under its own weight.

A monolithic Coatlicue statue, believed to have been created a few decades before the Spanish invasion, is an important piece in the collection of Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology. This position has made Coatlicue a recurring reference in twentieth-century Mexican art history, including in the works of Miguel Covarrubias or Diego Rivera, the latter having represented her as an industrial cyborg. Castillo Deball’s work reanimates and unearths the spiritual foundation of Coatlicue, breaking free from her ethnologised objectification as an uprooted fetish.

Mariana Castillo Deball takes a kaleidoscopic approach to her practice, mediating between science, archaeology, and the visual arts and exploring the way in which these disciplines describe the world. Her installations, performances, sculptures, and editorial projects arise from the recombination of different languages that seek to understand the role objects play in our identity and history. Her works result from a long research process, allowing her to study the different ways in which a historical object can be read as it presents a version of reality that informs and blends into a polyphonic panorama. Seeking to initiate a dialogue with institutions and museums beyond contemporary art, Castillo Deball collaborates with ethnographic collections, libraries, and historical archives.

Read more about the 24th Biennale of Sydney, Ten Thousand Suns, by purchasing the catalogue here.