©2017-2018 by Reciprocal art magazine

    reciprocal logo test3.jpg

    Maria Del Pilar (PILI) Lopez-Saavedra


    In your installation MORENX, you create a self-portrait with words that describe your own body, while also “…encompassing all Latinxs and/or brown/black people, regardless of gender.” How did the idea for this piece come about? What lead you to use text as a way of illustrating an all-encompassing (self) portrait?

    The idea for MORENX came to be while I was thinking about alternatives/solutions to the gender binary/colonial values imbedded within the Spanish Language. In the text piece which is presented as a wall installation, the visual and gendered back and forth between the masculine and feminine endings of the word “Moreno/a”, a term in Spanish used to refer to a broad spectrum of brown/black people, and the switch between “un/una”, showcase the ever-present gender binary in Spanish. My use of the term Moreno/a/x was to stress the racial diversity of the Latine/x community but also to comment on the intricacies through which Latine/x culture deals with race because it does not function within a white/black dichotomy, although it still functions and is affected by white supremacy. I wanted to reclaim and positively use the word Morenx, because although at times it is used as a term of endearment when describing brown/black people including non-black Latines, it can carry anti-black/colorist sentiment. I wanted to push away from that and therefore in my statement explicitly stated that this (self) portrait was inclusive of all Latine/x and/or brown/black people. Within MORENX, I wanted to create a fragmentation and individual categorization of body parts, which when paired with the word MORENO/A emphasized the non-whiteness of the body in all its parts.

    I decided to use text as my medium primarily because I was specifically dealing with language and also because I wanted to Queerify Spanish by playing with how gendered it already is. Through the list of body parts and gendered conjugations paired with the gender-inclusive title of MORENX, I wanted to evoke the sense of how this description could belong to anyone although it was comprised of words which are both masculine and feminine. I specifically chose a genderless way of describing the body through text within MORENX, the word “penzones”, meaning nipples, is included instead of the word “cenos”, which means breasts. Additionally, there are no genitalia descriptions within the portrait.

    Because of the gender within the Spanish language, nothing literally nothing, is ever purely feminine or masculine, this to me is the greatest paradox. For example, a building is el edificio, which is masculine, but buildings need doors, which would be la puerta, which is feminine. Therefore, the building is never purely male or masculine under the definitions imposed by rigid gender binaries. This is the cheeky ideology through which I wanted to create this (self) portrait, which to me is not a solution but instead an alternative perspective through which to view Queer existence in Latinx Culture and Queer representation in the Spanish language.

    MORENX, 2017, printed text on paper, nails, 24 x 72 inches

    How do you see your work evolving in the future, and what are some of the things you hope to accomplish?

    I have begun to explore more performance work and I think that a shift to more performance-centered practice is where I will be headed in the future.  I hope to accomplish a practice that is active within my community and is built through my own experiences paired with conversations with others and dictated through the need/call of the times and history as they resonate with me.

    What are some of the obstacles you face in pursuing your goals?

    Within performance work, the main obstacle I am dealing with is my hesitation and disconnect with my body, which is the main reason I haven’t previously made more performance work. I am pushing myself daily to feel more comfortable in my skin, in my body, in my intersectional identities and to embrace where all these parts meet.

    MAS, 2017, printed paper, nails, 
    11 x 17 inches per sheet, overall dimensions variable

    MAS, 2017, printed paper, nails, 

    11 x 17 inches per sheet, overall dimensions variable

    "MAS is an ongoing installation that chronicles, POC representation, self love, community and strength, while simultaneously allowing for reflection on current political climate and immigration policies. MAS consists of various dark skin tones nailed to a wall and presented together. The shades within MAS, are found within Rihanna’s new Fenty Beauty line. Fenty Beauty has released 40 shades of foundation alongside its racially inclusive makeup. The diversity and inclusion brought by Fenty to the beauty industry has been groundbreaking, but emphasizes the previous (and continuous) anti-blackness and segregation of products, representation and ideologies within it.

    MAS brings into conversation the influence and significance of representation. Aside from the pop culture elements within MAS, topics such as politics, immigration, LGBTQ rights, and the Latinx experience are indulged in as well. The construction of a wall-like structure, with the inclusion of dark skin tones, nails, labor and Spanish language all lead to conversations on immigration. Within MAS, dark skin tones take over the white gallery space, in a loud and transformative way, as the artist has to perform the laborious process of nailing each sheet into the wall. There are no translations to the word MAS, and the vague-one worded title and statement allows for the speculation and reflection of an otherwise rigorously structured conceptual piece.

    MAS is asking for more POC representation, more conversation on POC topics, more community, more solidarity, more Spanish. MAS is evoking the audience to be moved by the possibility of what could be- in order to envision a world and future that not only includes POC, but holds us central to its creation."


    Maria Del Pilar (PILI) Lopez-Saavedra