Mónica Mayer and Maris Bustamante, 2008
Polvo de Gallina Negra
Mónica Mayer and Maris Bustamante

¡MADRES! Madre por un día

In 1983, Maris Bustamante and Mónica Mayer formed the first feminist art collective in Mexico, Polvo de Gallina Negra (Black Hen Powder), the name of a “remedy against the evil eye, which we felt we needed given that we were women, women artists, and even worse, feminist artists.” Their actions combined radical social criticism with extravagant doses of humour. For instance, the group’s name was used for feminist incantations, such as “Black Hen Powder – to protect us from the patriarchal magic which makes women disappear”. For the project "¡MADRES!", which was a long-term social intervention on motherhood, their first action was to become pregnant. And, indeed, Mayer and Bustamante each gave birth to a girl three months apart. Other "¡MADRES!" performances included inviting 10 prominent men in Mexico to be "Mother for a Day", a competition in which people wrote letters to their mothers “with everything you ever wanted to tell her but didn’t dare”, and performance interventions during protests. According to Bustamante, “Mexico is still an adverse country for women. [...] The deep class struggle we live, the racial prejudice and the oligarchic values create a social fabric where women are excluded from active roles and attacked directly simply because they are women.”

Polvo de Gallina Negra (Mónica Mayer and Maris Bustamante) persuaded the popular news anchor Guillermo Ochoa to dress up as a pregnant woman and be a Mother for a Day in a television show, which was later converted into a video and presented in art museums. During the show, Ochoa and Polvo de Gallina Negra discuss motherhood and female archetypes.

TV performance: 1987, television show, canal 2 de Televisa Mexico

Courtesy Maris Bustamante & Mónica Mayer

Document media
Video, colour, sound, 17:28 min; photographs

Issue date

Maris Bustamante (BUS 1),
Maris Bustamante (BUS 2)
Mónica Mayer (MAY 1)
Mónica Mayer (MAY 2)

laughter/humorous, mass media, maternity, patriarchy, trash