Maria Fernanda Cardosa: An Overview And Interview

Art Blog | 25 Nov, 2012

Whilst reading an entry from a popular  Australian newspaper I stumbled upon an artist known as Maria Fernanda Cardoso. Personally i had never heard of her before and was curious to find out more about the style in which she works and what makes her tick in her desired field of art. It would be a fair statement to say that animals and nature are at the heart of her work with many of her works capturing a blend of subtle and blatant humour.

Cardoso is 49 years old and was born in Colombia. After a very fruitful and praised career in art which she still enjoys she has finally resided in Sydney where she lives with her husband, a video artist named Ross Rudesch Harley, and their two sons. It was 1996 when they moved to Sydney after she graduated from Yale with a master`s in sculpture and installation which she completed in 1990.

Some of her works include a large ball made from hundreds of grasshoppers, a conga line of preserved frogs and a suspended sculpture of a dried starfish. Just by imagining these you can see where the nature and humour aspect intertwine. In the permanent section at London`s Tate Gallery you will find her most infamous work named Cardoso Flea Circus, for which she trained fleas and acted as the ringmaster as a performance piece which played at the Sydney Festival in 2000.

Two quotes from Cardoso which support her thirst for animals and nature :

If I wasn`t an artist I would be a naturalist

There`s still so much to learn about the world of animals and plants

There was a free art festival which took part in Sydney called The Biennale of Sydney and included over a hundred acclaimed artists from all around the world where Cardoso`s entry was The Museum of  Copulatory Organs which included drawings, sculptures and a film of the penises of dragonflies, microbats, sea snails and more.

When asked a few questions by journalist Barry Divola from the Sydney Morning Herald Cardoso seemed comfortable and playful with her responses. These are the questions she was asked.

What`s the attraction to the penises of insects and small animals ?

When I was researching my flea circus project in the 1990`s, I found that fleas have two penis coils that take up to two thirds of the abdomen, and they can copulate for up to eight hours. I was so amused and fascinated with this. For my latest project I spent a summer researching insect genitalia to see if fleas were the only ones that were well endowed.

So you`re not squeamish around creepy crawlies ?

Apart from cockroaches – I was traumatised by them after I had to clean out my compost heap. Now they freak me out. Now my husband does the composting.

Do you think modern art lacks a sense of humour ?

A lot of conceptual art is awful. You cannot get into it unless you read the theory. I don`t think it`s interested in conveying anything to anyone outside a very small group ; I want to communicate with everybody, from children to grandparents.

Any move to include the area of human penises ?

They`re too boring and mundane compared to insect penises, which appeal to me morphologically and aesthetically. There`s nothing new to say with humans. Next I`m going smaller. I want to study dust mites.

It seems you don`t believe bigger is better ?

I like to say that it s not size that matters, it`s shape.

I was very amused to read the answers that were given by Maria Cardoso in this interview and found it very enlightening to know that not all artists take their work to seriously. She is a down to earth person with a real family life and I have found myself embracing the fact that her ego has not absorbed her or any of her fun filled art projects. Artists are normal people with a passion to express what is on their mind in a creative manner. Cardoso has created an environment which excites her interests and allows her to playfully express herself through her art. I am so pleased I landed on her article while I was visiting friends in Sydney, Australia, and as a result of reading it I have not only exposed myself to a talented artist, but I`ve also learned that just about any fascination in life can be engineered into thought provoking artwork.

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