BY ALEXXA GOTTHARDT
Film still from Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler, Flora, 2017. Courtesy of the artists, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York and Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin.
Alberto Giacometti is remembered by history as a sculptor, not a muse. But one photo, tucked in the artist’s 1985 biography by James Lord, tells a different story. In it, Giacometti sits beside a sculpture of his own head. Next to them is the bust’s maker: Flora Mayo. She looks over her portrait and subject with authority.
If Mayo’s name doesn’t ring a bell, you’re not alone. Until this past May, Lord’s Giacometti biography was one of only a handful of art history books that included her name. There, she’s discussed only in passing—and in blatantly sexist terms. “Flora looks at her lover wistfully, as she had cause to do,” Lord writes, describing the photo of her and Giacometti. “She is attractive but not beautiful, and there is something weak in her face.”
Artist duo Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler, however, are setting Mayo’s record straight. Their 30-minute film, Flora (2017), is on view in the 57th Venice Biennale’s Swiss Pavilion through November. For the first time, it uncovers the circuitous, heartbreaking story of Mayo’s life and work, which were both shaped by expectations imposed on women during her lifetime……….