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Mariana Castillo Deball
b. Mexico City, 1975
Mariana Castillo Deball was born in Mexico City in 1975. She earned an MA in fine art from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, in 1997. In 2003, she also completed a postgraduate program at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Deball’s interest in the mathematical laws and geometrical structures present in landscape and throughout the organic universe have contributed to a unique body of work in which elements of science and nature are synthesized into sculptural objects.
For her 2011 exhibition at Museo Experimental El Eco in Mexico City, Deball presented a site-specific installation titled This constructed disorder, allows geological surprises for the most abandoned memory. Supported by a vast metallic structure that meandered like a snake through the building, the work incorporated diverse and irregularly shaped papier-mâché forms imprinted with motifs from her archive including air plants, mathematical models, and mineral formations. These made use of contrasting concave and convex shapes, referencing the history of geometric abstraction and mimicking the interiors of natural caves. The work’s indeterminate formal quality—it occupied a space somewhere between the figurative and the abstract—had a kind of awkwardness with the capacity to subtly influence the visitor’s perceptual and phenomenological experience of the museum’s interior.
Deball’s more recent quasi-abstract sculptures and prints, which reflect the influence of pre-Columbian Mexican iconography, explore archeological method. Zoomoorph P (2013) reproduces at smaller scale the monumental inscribed Mayan woodcarving of the title. Part of a larger archival investigation conducted by the artist, the work alludes to the “paper squeeze” technique, a variation on papier-mâché casting that was devised by archaeologist Alfred Maudslay and detailed in Eduardo Paolozzi’s 1985 exhibition at the Museum of Mankind in London. Zoomoorph P also incorporates the theories of archaeologist Alfred Gell, in particular his idea of “object biographies.” Deball uses the casts she makes to produce prints that reproduce the complex semiology of the Mayans en route to a nuanced material exploration of personal cultural heritage.
Deball has had solo exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Amsterdam (2004); Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City (2006); Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Switzerland (2009); Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California (2010); Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City (2011), and Chisenhale Gallery, London (2013). Her work has been featured in the group exhibitions For the Blind Man in the Dark Room Looking for the Black Cat that isn’t There, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2010); Never Odd or Even, Grimmuseum, Berlin (2011); Inanimate Beings, La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2011); Printin’, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2013), and Arqueológica, Matadero, Madrid (2013). Her work has also been included in the Shanghai Biennal (2008); Athens Biennial (2009); Venice Biennale (2011); and Documenta, Kassel, Germany (2012). Deball was awarded the Prix de Rome, Amsterdam (2004), Zurich Art Prize (2012), Henry Moore Fellowship (2012), and Preis der Nationalgalerie für Junge Kunst, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2013). She completed a Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst residency in Berlin in 2011. She lives and works in Berlin.