La Malinche, 2019

Photo: Imagen Subliminal (Rocío Romero + Miguel de Guzman)
Photo: Imagen Subliminal (Rocío Romero + Miguel de Guzman)
Photo: Imagen Subliminal (Rocío Romero + Miguel de Guzman)

Steel, aluminum, Styrofoam, clay, brass, brick, cigarette

La Malinche is a biomorphic clay sculpture, named after a Nahua woman who lived in the beginning of the sixteenth century, known by a variety of names: Marina, Dońa Marina, and Malintzin. In fact, La Malinche represents a controversial figure in South American history, as she had acted as an interpreter for the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés during the Spanish-Aztec War in 1519–21. While some consider her a traitor for collaborating with the colonists, others see her as a powerful woman, who took revenge on the Aztecs for having killed and enslaved her Nahua tribe. Taking the form of a bird, a woman, and an oven at the same time, La Malinche inspires a multiplicity of images, including that of a singing creature who enfolds herself in an embrace. The work can be also read in relation to a series of sculptures in which Gabriel Chaile draws on personal and family histories, creating associations between the sculptural pieces and the physical features of family members, often women.

Embedded in this work is an exploration of Chaile’s Indigenous roots and the reactivation of pre-Colombian traditions, Indigenous morphologies, and shapes. Over the years, Chaile has been developing a poetics of poor materials and everyday objects that reclaims artisanship, manual skills, and the invention or repurposing of objects of everyday use. His work often takes the form of a material investigation into the genealogy of shapes, reflecting on the knowledge and relations inscribed in certain objects and how they have survived time, testifying to the histories written onto them. Chaile translates these reflections into usable sculptures, often made of clay or construction materials, such as bricks, metal, or adobe structures. 

With La Malinche, Chaile gestures at the connection between nourishment, mutual support, and collaboration with practices of resisting oppression and countering scarcity to eventually craft new material worlds. The vessels that Chaile incorporates into large-scale sculptures carry a spiritual or quasi-magical connotation, providing a power that unfolds from the material and goes beyond it. 


Group show: Remedios
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba
Curator: Daniela Zyman
Exhibition 14 April 2023 -  March 2024

Born in San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina, in 1985. Lives between Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Lisbon, Portugal.