Vp Issue 11: “Artist Esperanza Mayobre”

[Originally published in Vp issue 12 by Maria Elena Gonzalez and photos by Megan Ghiroli]

[Originally published in Vp issue 12 by Maria Elena Gonzalez and photos by Megan Ghiroli]

The piece of emerging artist Esperanza Mayobre that first caught my attention was “E$peranza”, which translates into English as “($)Hope.” “E$peranza” is an installation project that Mayobre started in 2003, and which has evolved through 2005. In it, Esperanza portrays developing countries paying off their national debts with The World Bank.

Bills were manufactured to look like currency from her native Venezuela, with the icon on the fake bills portraying Mayobre herself. In regal pose, Esperanza’s image suggests high society philanthropy or venerable religious generosity, as connected this with debt-relief for developing countries. The stacks of money are displayed on the floor, a la Felix González-Torres and, yes, people may take one. In Mayobre’s work, the diminishing piles of money directly refer to the disappearance of monies from The World Bank. The later component of this project is titled “Thank you E$peranza,” in which leaders of developing countries are portrayed sending their ‘thank yous’ to Mayobre. Esperanza’s work is well-executed and convincing, emphasizing architectural elements such as placement, form, material, design and construction. Esperanza also employs a variety of visual formats both intriguing and smart, drawing upon and commenting on the history of art. Esperanza’s works does not lend itself to those who want to see a “signature” style. Her strategy of creating works from disparate elements reflects the compartmentalization and varied nature of our lives.

Esperanza Mayobre and I have many things in common, but I will point out just a few that pertain to our practice. We share a common predilection for minimalist aesthetics—Esperanza uses this and expands it to include narrative. We both often use personal experiences as points of departure. In Esperanza’s case, these sources are immigration, economics (poverty and debt), sickness, death and birth. It is through these key themes that Mayobre seeks to relate with her viewers. In essence, her motifs are nuanced, humorous, critical and sexy. Esperanza Mayobre is successfully coining her own currency and enriching us as well.


Velvetpark Magazine, Issue 11 (Summer 2006), 38-39.