Born to a religious Catholic family in Italy, 1951, Patrizia Guerresi, adopted the name Maïmouna, when she married a Senegalese man and joined the Murid Muslim community in 1991. The multimedia artist works with photography, sculpture, video, and installation presenting an intimate perspective on spiritual ideas of human beings in relation to their inner mystical dimensions.
A First-Hand Narrative: Maïmouna Guerresi Aisha in Wonderland
We recently re-discovered her mysterious art via the Mariane Ibraham Gallery where she exhibited Aisha in Wonderland. Studying her work through the past 22 years revealed a fascinating consistency. Guerresi’s images float between a delicate narrative and a powerful fluid portrayal of psychological, cultural and political sequences of humanity across the borders.
We talk about a global international community, yet, very few truly take the time to reflect on what it means to be interconnected. To be able to partake in this international community, it appears that more often than not, the narrators of the story come from a world with one story. Their perspective poses no questions and is placed above fact, for anything that does not fit into their ‘normal’ is not worthy of a first hand narrative. Or so it seems? We could take you through stories of Africa, Asia and even Europe where the Peoples’ stories have been reduced to fit the standard stereotype, where the Peoples’ stories start with …secondly. But, that is a tale for another day. That curiosity for what is unknown seems to be dying a slow and terrible death. Whatever does not fit into a pretty box does not deserve light, it is better off kept in the dark where it belongs.
What captivated us with Maïmouna Guerresi’s work is how she effortlessly fuses ancestry and spirituality of Asian, African, and European cultures. It seems to echo a flawless perspective of art and life through a globalized eye, heart and mind. It is without a doubt that her figures awaken a curiosity beyond the mundane and reveal an ethereal universal truth about community, something we all know to be true when all the layers are uncovered. This authenticity of soul is perhaps the key to empowerment of the ‘unseen’ and ‘unheard’. The much needed bridge to narrowing the gap between cultural similarities and differences and ultimately a cultivation for a deep understanding for humanity across the borders.
You are a sculptor, video artist, and a photographer. I can see your various talents influencing your photographs, which look like haunting paintings. In fact, I’ve heard you described as the Sufi Frida Kahlo. What is the inspiration behind your work?
I’m glad to be considered a Sufi Frida Kahlo! Frida was a great woman and artist, and although life was cruel she was able to transform her suffering into art of the highest quality.
My moods are expressed in my work as faces, color, and emotions, where the body is no longer a prison of the soul, but rather like a temple to house and augment the Divine. In my work I use different techniques from video to sculpture to photography, because I think that every artwork has its own identity and can be expressed more effectively in one technique than another.
Words by Khumoetsile Seamogano
Images: Courtesy the artist and M.I.A Gallery