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Maïmouna Guerresi


Patrizia Maïmouna Guerresi (b. 1951) is an Italian born multimedia artist working with photography, sculpture, video and installation, who lives between Verona, Milan and Dakar. Graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, Maïmouna turned to photography after a period of experimentation with painting and drawing. Early in her career she was invited to show in the Italian pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1982 and 1986), the Rome Quadrennial (1986), as well as at Documenta K18 (1987) in Kassel, Germany.

Originating from conceptual experimentations inspired by the Body Art movement of the 1970s, Maïmouna‘s early works focused on the relationship between nature, humanity and mythology. She produced various shows in which she identified herself each time with different characters appearing in Greek myths – particularly Daphne, who was transformed into a laurel when Apollo touched her navel. In the early nineties, she made several trips to sacred sites in Islamic countries in Africa. There she became interested in Islamic mysticism, particularly in the Senegal Muridiyya Sufi order – to which she eventually converted, adopting a new identity and the Muslim Arabic name Maïmouna (‘divine protection’). This also marked a turning point in her career, taking her work in a new direction as she began exploring reiterant themes relating to multicultural symbolism and feminine spirituality.

Over the last two decades, her art has focused on empowering women and exhibiting a context of universal human values and conditions that is situated beyond psychological, cultural, and political borders. Her large scale images offer a unique perspective on the relationship between women and society, with particular reference to places where women are most marginalised, especially focusing on North African and South Asian countries.

Maïmouna has been extensively exhibited in solo and curated shows all over Europe, America and now India, and the Middle East. These include a 1999 solo show at the Foundation Mudima in Milan, where she made a large exhibition with video installations and photographs at a time when Islam was an emerging area of discursive interest; a 2009 solo exhibition at the National Museum of Bamako in Mali during the Biennial of African Art in Bamako, her first show in Africa; a group show with artists from the Middle West and Africa at the Stux, New York, in 2010; a solo show in Fez, Morocco, 2011; group shows in 2011 at the  Boghossian Foundation in Brussels, Belgium and the KIASMA Museum in Helsinki, Finland; and her shows in India and Bangladesh. She was also invited to participate once again, in the 54th edition of the Venice Biennale in 2011.