Exploration and Expression of the Representation of the Human Body, not only as an instrument of Perception, but also as a Mechanism for Domination
Born in 1964 in Managua, Patricia Belli is a visual artist from Nicaragua. In 1986, she graduated from Loyola University of the South, in New Orleans, with a degree in visual arts. Ten years later, she graduated in Arts and Letters from UCA in Managua and in 1999 received a Fullbright scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in Fine Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute, which she completed in 2001. Upon her return to Nicaragua in 2001, Belli founded the Space for Research and Artistic Reflection, EspIRA, an association dedicated to the critical and sensitive training of emerging Central American artists.
Belli exhibits regularly in Central America, South America, the United States and Europe. Between 2016 and 2017, a retrospective exhibition of her work, organized by Curator Miguel López, through Foundation TEOR/ética, travel from San José (Costa Rica) to Managua (Nicaragua) and Guatemala City (Guatemala). In 2018, her works were exhibited during the 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. In 2019, Patricia Belli took part of the Pernod Ricard Fellowship at Villa Vassilieff.https://www.coleccioncisneros.org/authors/patricia-belli
In her practice Patricia Belli blends sculpture, painting, video, photography, and drawing, combining them with the collaborative, non-hierarchical learning tactics she pursues as an educator. For Belli, pedagogy and administrative work are labours of radical care that can undermine traditional hierarchies in educational settings and that are inseparable from the labour of art-making.
In the late 1990s, Belli began to sew together fragments of found clothing, fabrics, and textiles. The garments both suture into and spill out of the canvas, creating hybrid assemblage objects. Her chosen fabrics evoke the labours and affects of feminine corporeality and propriety—lacy garter-belt straps, diaphanous silk slips, sleeves with rows of tiny buttons, nylon pantyhose. These elegant materials take on a more biomorphic, even monstrous effect when repeatedly folded and stitched together into layered, uncanny masses of material, as if evoking the banal horrors of domesticity and aging. Her work is highly multidimensional and versatile: a user of assemblage, and the creator of surprising installations she faces the ethical and aesthetic problems that concern contemporary art in a world where everything seems to have been invented, and where the myth of originality has lost its grip. https://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/display/materials-and-objects/patricia-belli
Belli begins with phenomenology and theories of perception as she considers that the human body is not only a biological structure, but that it also belongs to a culture and a period. Of the possible messages and languages that can be developed based on the body itself, the dress supplies a wide array of meanings since it is the aesthetic object closest to the individual, the most immediate substitute of the human body as well as its second skin. Since 1990, this artist has used the dress to define a very concrete female iconography in which clothing becomes a container for self-definition and identification. One of her fundamental works, Traje y paisaje (Dress and landscape, 1991), refers us to a symbolic figuration through two painted dresses. With the same security used by Frida Kahlo in painting Mi vestido cuelga ahí (My dress hangs there, 1933), Belli, presents the meaning, which is hidden under the fabrics, uses these two dresses, to express a new form of social communication through the garments. With the dress that floats, impelled by the wind, she alludes to a lack of identity inside a patriarchal society that establishes all norms of conduct. With the motionless dress, she conjures up the affirmation of female idiosyncracy. The weathervane that marks the direction of the winds is a clear referent to male power, which determined the position of woman in relationship to the dominant discourse. Through a symbolic language, Belli firmly reclaims her own space, despite cultural prejudices. She understands the expressive value of clothing, and when she decides to use textiles instead of painting them, she openly questions the paradigms of representation by using the same values that the patriarchal society had decreed as exclusively female.