Margarita Azurdia, Favor quitarse los zapatos, 1970
Margarita Azurdia
Favor quitarse los zapatos

Margarita Azurdia (*1931 †1998, Guatemala), also known as Margot Fanjul, worked with painting and sculpture, collage, contemporary and sacred dances, as well as poetry and performance art. In her work she assimilated local culture and discussed gender issues in the context of the Guatemalan civil war (1960–1996). Homaje a Guatemala (Homage to Guatemala, concluded in 1974 and exhibited only once, in a field) is a series of carved wood works which were created in collaboration with local artisans and which combined objects, installation, popular culture and magic for the first time in the region. Performances she developed working with other women during the counterinsurgency war in Guatemala (1964-1970) were not documented. Many of her works and personal objects can now be found in a museum located in the last house where she lived in Guatemala City. EF

With her first performance, Favor quitarse los zapatos (Please take off your shoes), Azurdia became the first Central American artist to participate in an international biennial with an individual performance. All that is left from this event “is a dark, blurred image of the artist who is barely visible, dimly lit by a small light” (curator Virginia Pérez-Ratton). The piece consisted in asking the public to take their shoes off and enter a cavernous wooden structure with a sand floor. Like other Latin American artists from the same period, such as Lygia Clark (see CLA 1-2) and Hélio Oiticica, Azurdia was interested in integrating the body of the public in the work, exploring sensorial capacities other than vision and expanding psychophysical awareness. Since this first performative experiment, she has continued to explore the earth element in her poetry and ritualistic dances.

Courtesy Rosina Cazali