Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler: Flora: LACMA
Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler’s Flora is based on their discoveries about the unknown American artist Flora Mayo, with whom the Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti had a love affair in Paris in the 1920s. While Giacometti is one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century, Mayo’s oeuvre has been destroyed and her biography was previously relegated as a footnote in Giacometti scholarship.
Hubbard / Birchler reframe this history and bring Mayo’s compelling biography to life through a feminist perspective that interweaves reconstruction, reenactment, and documentary into a hybrid form of storytelling. As a double-sided film installation, each side of Flora reveals a different story while sharing the same soundtrack. The work is conceived as a conversation between Mayo and her son, David–whom the artists discovered after an exhaustive search, living near Los Angeles. Flora generates a multifaceted dialogue–between a mother and son, Mayo and Giacometti, Paris and Los Angeles, and past and present.
Also on view is the accompanying work, Bust, inspired by a photograph showing Mayo and Giacometti flanking a portrait bust she made of him. Bust comprises a photographic reproduction and reconstruction of Mayo’s no-longer-extant sculpture.
Flora and Bust premiered at the Swiss Pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. LACMA’s presentation marks its United States debut.