Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Charlotte, USA
Curated by Katia Zavistovski
September 23, 2023 – January 21, 2024
Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler’s
Flora is based on their discoveries about the unknown American
artist Flora Mayo, with whom the Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti
had a love affair in Paris in the 1920s. While Giacometti is one of
the most celebrated artists of the 20th century, Mayo’s oeuvre has
been destroyed and her biography was previously relegated as a
footnote in Giacometti scholarship.
Hubbard / Birchler reframe this history and bring Mayo’s compelling biography to life through a feminist perspective that interweaves reconstruction, reenactment, and documentary into a hybrid form of storytelling. As a double-sided film installation, each side of Flora reveals a different story while sharing the same soundtrack. The work is conceived as a conversation between Mayo and her son, David–whom the artists discovered after an exhaustive search, living near Los Angeles. Flora generates a multifaceted dialogue–between a mother and son, Mayo and Giacometti, Paris and Los Angeles, and past and present.
Also on view are the accompanying works, Bust and Archive, Flora Luella Lewis Mayo. Bust is inspired by a photograph showing Mayo and Giacometti flanking a portrait bust she made of him. Bust comprises a photographic reproduction and reconstruction of Mayo’s no-longer-extant sculpture.
Archive, Flora Luella Lewis Mayo incorporates a selection of Hubbard / Birchler’s research, sketches and journals, as well as ephemera that belonged to Flora Mayo and a chronology exploring the intersection of Flora Mayo’s and Alberto Giacometti’s biographies. Archive, Flora Luella Lewis Mayo is a fluid, on-going artwork that often directly engages with the hosting venue’s permanent collection.
Flora and Bust premiered at the Swiss Pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.