As she was strolling through the neighbourhood of Retiro in Buenos Aires, María Silvia Corcuera came across a young local girl. The sight left Corcuera paralyzed with joy, for the woman was wearing on her head a porteño peinetón, a common accessory in Buenos Aires in the XIX century. This ornament was so popular among the elite that some women went so far as to wear peinetones a meter long.
Since that moment, this artist has studied the origin and development of the peinetón, and adopted it as a constant component in her work, known for its exploration of different symbolic repertoires, through the synthesis of certain objects and materials as diverse as pasteboard, old train tokens, metals or rattles.
Recognised as an objectualist, María Silvia Corcuera has collected and created pieces that provoke the observer into crossing the sacred barrier of art, and touching its shapes and textures. Artefacts that pose as elements characteristic of the everyday life, but that the artist manages to transform and bestow with a symbolism heedful of the historical, political and social context.
The 1994 series "Juguetes" (Toys) is portrayed as an array of temptations that threaten adulthood and evoke memories of a bygone childhood, in the shape of wooden wheelbarrows that, on this occasion, carry hearts, peinetones and buildings. In her 2001 series "Ciudades" (Cities), instead, she explores the realities of both the local and the global, through the use of simple materials that capture both the dramatism and the peacefulness of a lethargic polis. Some of her more acclaimed series were "Peinetones, Voluntad de Desmesura" (1997), "Toros, Manolas y Guitarras" (1998) and "Escudos" (2005).
Among the most renowned collective exhibitions and activities from the artist's vast career, some honourable mentions include "Pinturas y Objetos" (Paintings and Objects), in the El Cairo VI Biennale (1997); the project "Juego de Artistas" (the Artists' Game) that takes place annually in the Children's Museum in Buenos Aires (2000); and "Banderas de lo Posible" (Flags of the Possible) in the "Fin del Mundo" biennale in Ushuaia, Argentina (2007). Additionally, she participated in the exposition "Geometría sin Límites", from the Jean % C Cherqui, Maison L'Amerique Latine Collection in France; and her work has been under study since 2012 by Ph. Regina Root, from the Berkeley University in California, U.S.A. Among her greatest recognitions is the Trabucco Award, ANBA.
Corcuera's creative and artistic drive is possibly explained by her relentless restlessness and curiosity towards the society that surrounds her, or perhaps by her early exposure to European and Latin American art - her being the daughter of a diplomat and coming from a family with great artistic sensibility. Regardless of the reason, this plastic artist, who studied Literature and Art History in the Buenos Aires University, admits that it was her having attended Kenneth Kemble and Víctor Chab's workshop that helped her create her own language, which has doubtlessly been influenced by her history and the places where she lived.
María Silvia Corcuera's sculptures are characteristic for being geometrical, harmonic, conceptual, and for being a nod to the collage technique, by gathering elements - which would not otherwise be joined - with which she achieves emphatic significations. For example, in the series "Dones y Cascabeles" (Gifts and Rattles), the artist combines some obscure occidental poems with some rattles she bought in a folkloric party in Bolivia and kept for 30 years. "I remembered about the rattles and joined them, resulting in a perfect dichotomy. This element that brings Spain into America, and that can be traced back to medieval times (they were used by minstrels and lepers to announce their arrival) makes the noise, that the opacity then silences. It was marvellous to work with them, and they were fundamental in order to complete the meaning", claims Corcuera.
Even though María Silvia Corcuera is one of the great female representatives of contemporary Argentinian sculpture, the artist does not believe in gender work, regardless of its condition. However, she does admit having a rather unique perspective:
"I believe there are some traits and a special gaze, multiple and summational, that we women possess. I work a lot with the feminine fashion. I hope my work goes beyond the feminine and seeks the human", Corcuera says, referring to the material role the peinetones fulfil in her work.