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Work by Maria Fernanda Cardoso

September 6, 2002 – November 25, 2002

Those familiar with Maria Fernanda Cardoso’s work may recall the elaborate cemetery tapestries of her 36,000 plastic white lilies along the walls of the “Modern Starts” millennium show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, or perhaps the live fleas of one of several Cardoso Flea Circus performances in various places around the world. Continuing in her tradition of large-scale installation work, Cardoso presents “Sheep,” a work that is to cover the walls of the Art Museum of the Americas with hundreds of sheep hides. These skins have been joined without the intent of disguising their original form. Through treatment with dyes, electrical shearing tools, as well as her own hand for the finer details of decorative geometric patterns, Cardoso’s piece is highly sensualized with warmth, smell, color, and texture.

Cardoso is known for working with large quantities of a single material, whose properties are thereby explored through subtle arrangement, manipulation, and re-contextualization. In the case of her sheep, she has coalesced the relationship between museum architecture and the insulation properties of wool.

Cardoso began her project some five years ago, when she first moved to Sydney, Australia. She became interested in working with Australian animals, and soon realized the enduring influence of sheep on the continent’s cultural and agricultural landscape. As a staple commodity, sheep rearing brought a large degree of economic wealth to its post-colonial economy.

As stated by Cardoso, “the ride on the sheep’s back maybe over, but the animal remains. It is my intention to bring to attentions some of the characteristics that this animal has had in human development. It was one of the first animals to be domesticated thousands of years ago, and continues to provide food and clothing to human animals.”