MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image — The Life of Things

Karen Paulina Biswell + Laura Huertas Millán + Ana Mendieta: Libertad

From September 7 to October 19, 2019
Opening on September 6 at 5 pm

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Curator: María Wills Londoño, in collaboration with Audrey Genois and Maude Johnson

Libertad brings together works by Karen Paulina Biswell, Laura Huertas Millán, and Ana Mendieta, who critically examine the thingification of women’s bodies by questioning the very notion of freedom. The exhibition highlights strategies through which women tackle power to become subjects rather than objects of representation.

In the series Ellas and Nama Bu, Biswell shows identities that do not fully conform to conventional expectations or social mores, challenging categorization to make room for ambiguity. Her subjects express tacit protest, a volition or intentionality that is never passive. Ellas presents women whose ambivalent stances and exaggerated casualness aim to blur any taxonomy; Nama Bu, through the portrait of an indigenous Colombian family (from the Emberá-Chamí community), explores social structures that reinforce clichés about indigeneity.

Huertas Millán confronts dominant discourses through stories of alienation and self-determination in which she challenges binaries and essentialism to offer a pluralized view of culture. In the films La Libertad and Journey to a land otherwise known, she probes the legacies of colonialism. La Libertad presents a collective portrait of a matriarchal family of Navarro weavers and attends restoratively to indigenous knowledge and practices. Journey to a land otherwise known concerns the notion of exoticism and criticizes political structures of ethnographic knowledge, whose foundations lie partly in botanical expeditions.

A pioneer among artists who combine the body and the earth, Mendieta developed performative and ceremonial modes of (re)presentation. She explored concepts of femininity and empowerment through actions that faded, leaving behind an ephemeral trace. In the films Burial Pyramid and Alma, Silueta en Fuego, Mendieta’s physical being is undermined. Forming an iconic series, her “earth-body” sculptures—as Mendieta called them—inscribed abstract outlines of female bodies in the landscape, multiple figures of an archetypal goddess shaped by her interest in Afro-Cuban religions. Her actions dealing with invisibility paradoxically made visible, through bodily absence, the contours of internalized violence.

The contributions of Biswell, Huertas Millán, and Mendieta heighten female agency, understood here in terms of women taking charge of their own sexual, political, and economic potential.

The presentation of this exhibition results from a collaboration between MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image and Dazibao.


Karen Paulina Biswell (b. 1983) is a French-Colombian artist who lives and works between Paris and Bogotá. Her projects have been presented in solo and group exhibitions, including at the Fondation Vasarely (Aix-en-Provence), the Rencontres photographiques de Guyane (French Guyana), Les Rencontres d’Arles, and the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín. She is represented by Valenzuela-Klenner Galería (Bogotá).

Laura Huertas Millán (b. 1983) is a French-Colombian artist and filmmaker who lives and works in Paris and Bogotá. Her films have been presented in many venues and major events, including at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), the Toronto International Film Festival, Jeu de Paume (Paris), and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York). In 2018, she received the Emerging Artist Grant awarded by the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, and in 2017, the Grand Prix of the Biennale Jeune création européenne of Montrouge.

Ana Mendieta (1943–1985) was a Cuban artist who lived and worked in New York. Her work has been the subject of several major exhibitions, with recent presentations at Martin-Gropius-Bau (Berlin), Jeu de Paume (Paris), the Brooklyn Museum, the Berlin Biennial, and the Hayward Gallery (London). Her work is represented by Galerie Lelong & Co. (New York and Paris).


MOMENTA Time: Guided tours at Pôle de Gaspé and Mile End

On September 14, 2019 from 3:30 pm to 5 pm (in French)
On October 4, 2019 from noon to 1 pm (bilingual)

Free of charge and without booking


Do It Yourselves, Girls! A Zine Workshop

For teenage girls and female-identifying youths (aged 13 to 17) and their families

In collaboration with Girls Action Foundation, MOMENTA and Atelier Circulaire.

On October 5, 2019, ongoing from 1 pm to 4 pm — Free of charge and without booking (bilingual)

On October 12, 2019, ongoing from 1 pm to 4 pm — Free of charge and without booking (bilingual)

Offered from September 7 to October 18 to school groups and community groups — Free of charge, booking required

Dazibao thanks the artists and MOMENTA | Biennale de l'image for their generous collaboration as well as its advisory programming committee for their support.

Dazibao receives financial support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the Ville de Montréal.