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Maria Imaginario's War On Serious

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

Ivo Lázaro
January 24, 2018

When you entered Festival Iminente this year, probably one of the first things that caught your eye were a giant pair of boobs hanging from tress and a plush vagina gazing from a tree. Sex and love can be so serious sometimes - Maria doesn’t like that.

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Love is a common topic within the arts. Whole movements have been based of their preoccupation of the topic (see Romanticism) whose use of language and imagery see's the best in things. Before them, there had always been a fascination with beauty, all the way back to the earliest civilisations. Love then, isn’t a new topic.

Even when sarcasm is hitting digital highs with sardonic love-related tweets getting hundreds of thousands of RT’s and humorous memes poking fun at peoples seemingly perpetual inability to find it, this isn't quite any of that.

Maria’s work is brazen, bold and funny. The huge boobs that hang from the tree are cutesy, with almost anime style faces, they're inoffensive, they're innocent. They aren’t sexualised in any way, just like the vagina, with a clitoris made from a shower scrub and glittering labia that will frustrate magpies and draw passersby in to see how it feels.

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The feminist movement has witnessed a period of huge growth over the last five years, especially in the United States around the time of the last election. It's safe to say that Maria's work has that sensibility, but is far removed from the pro and anti-feminist rhetoric that litters the internet - it's just a bit of fun.

That Maria Imaginario has chosen this theme shows that she still believes in the necessity of it, especially in her home country, Portugal - a place where the explosive urban art scene would fool a lot of people into thinking it’s a more progressive place than it still is. Religion is still a fundamental part of society and with that, the old-fashioned values that come with it. By creating such an interactive piece of art, she's literally put it out in the open and inviting people in to the playful world. It got people talking, becoming a piece so popular that it seemed nobody could walk past it without getting their picture taken.

High art and conceptual art don’t do it for Maria in quite the same way as just having a laugh and doing whatever she wants in the name of that. That’s one of the most empowering things for anyone, to do what you want and not care about what people think. She has found a way to do this, whilst still making a statement about the profundities and profound failings of love and done so without sounding like everyone else.For that, you have to smile, or at least pose for a picture.

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