Mariana Castillo Deball: Feathered Changes, Serpent Disappearances
Berlin-based artist Mariana Castillo Deball (b. Mexico City, 1975) reveals gaps in the often unquestioned narratives of museology and archaeology in a new exhibition at San Francisco Art Institute’s (SFAI) Walter and McBean Galleries. The installation brings together new work by Deball, including sculpture, pottery, and rubbings, inspired by the archaeological archives of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), and the chance-driven visual art of composer John Cage.
Deball is well known for her explorations of the role that objects play in our understanding of identity and history. The neglected objects of the archive—fragments, plaster casts, false or dubious ephemera, and even forgeries—comprise the heart of her installations. Working with conservators, museum professionals, and archaeologists in the fields of Mayan and pre-Columbian artifacts, Deball follows the narratives of archaeology beyond the artifacts themselves. She presents the convoluted timeline of culture and the complexities of material history. Deball’s work connects the gaps of known history with chance discoveries to imagine archaeological narratives that embrace randomness, speculation, and a love of mystery.
Deball is developing this exhibition while in San Francisco for five weeks as the artist-in-residence of the SFAI + Kadist Fellowship, a partnership aimed to support artist-curated projects as well as young curators in the transition between graduate education and a professional career. Deball is being assisted by SFAI graduate and Fellow Christopher Squier (MFA 2015).
Mariana Castillo Deball’s work explores the role that objects play in our understanding of identity and history through work in installation, photography, drawing, and sculpture. She has participated in major international survey exhibitions including the 8th Berlin Biennale, dOCUMENTA (13), the 54th Venice Biennale, the 29th Bienal de São Paulo, and Manifesta 7. She is the recipient of the Preis der Nationalgalerie für junge Kunst, the Zürich Art Prize, the Ars Viva Prize, and the Prix de Rome. Deball lives and works in Berlin, Germany.