Biography

b. 1963, Bogotá, Colombia

Lives in Sydney, Australia

“The world has worlds within worlds, both smaller and bigger”

As a child, Maria Fernanda Cardoso took long nature walks with her father. Carrying a magnifying glass, Cardoso would look closely at plants and insects, studying their intricacies. These walks sparked her curiosity about the natural world and trained her powers of observation. Throughout her career, she has continued to explore nature and its links to culture and science. Curator Carolina Ponce de León writes, “Cardoso’s installations, sculptures and videos seek to unravel the parodies, paradoxes and complexities that appear in the joints where cultural systems overlap.”

In the early 1980’s, Cardoso studied architecture and the visual arts at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. In 1987, she moved to New York to attend the Graduate Sculpture Program at Pratt Institute, and in 1990, she completed her MFA in Sculpture at Yale University. Her early projects make use of preserved animals such as lizards, starfish, frogs, and snakes arranged in intricate, abstract compositions reminiscent of pre-Colombian forms. Other installations include flowers and stones turned into vertical gardens and funerary wreaths.

The Cardoso Flea Circus (1994-2000) was a six-year series of performances and installations in which Cardoso trained fleas to perform tasks and surprising feats of strength. She performed the Cardoso Flea Circus internationally, at venues including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Sydney Opera House, Centre Georges Pompidou, Arts Festival Atlanta, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, and the San Francisco Exploratorium. In 2003, she represented Colombia for the Venice Biennale. Cardoso moved to Sydney, Australia in 1997 and she currently lives and works there. In 2012, she received her PhD from Sydney College for the Arts.

María Fernanda Cardoso’s works are represented in several major collections including The Arts Centre Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise, Australia; Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, Bogotá, Colombia; Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, FL, USA; Colección Cisneros, Venezuela; Daros Latinamerica, Zürich, Switzerland; The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL, USA; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Bogotá, Colombia; Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia;  National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, USA and Tate Gallery, London, UK.  

De niña, Maria Fernanda Cardoso realizaba largos recorridos en la naturaleza  junto a su padre. Llevando una lupa, Cardoso miraba detalladamente a las plantas e insectos, estudiando sus complejidades. Estos recorridos le despertaron  una curiosidad sobre el mundo natural, y a su vez, entrenaron sus poderes de observación. A lo largo de su carrera, ella continuó explorando la naturaleza y los vínculos con la cultura y la ciencia. La curadora Carolina Ponce de León menciona, “Las instalaciones, esculturas y videos de Cardoso buscan desentrañar las parodias, paradojas y complejidades que aparecen en las articulaciones donde los sistemas culturales se superponen”. 

A comienzos de la década de 1980, Cardoso estudió arquitectura y artes visuales en la Universidad de Los Andes en Bogotá, Colombia. En 1987, se mudó a Nueva York a estudiar el Programa de Escultura en el Pratt Institute, y en 1990, finalizó su maestría (MFA) en Escultura en la Universidad de Yale. En sus primeros proyectos hizo uso de animales disecados como lagartijas, estrellas de mar, sapos, y serpientes dispuestos en composiciones intrincadas y abstractas que recuerdan a las formas precolombinas. Otras instalaciones incluyen flores y piedras convertidas en jardines verticales y coronas funerarias. 

The Cardoso Flea Circus (1994-2000), fue una serie de performances e instalaciones en los que durante seis años, Cardoso entrenó pulgas para realizar tareas y hazañas sorprendentes. Ella presentó al Cardoso Flea Circus en un ámbito internacional, estuvo en lugares como el Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Sydney Opera House, Centre Georges Pompidou, Arts Festival Atlanta, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, y en el San Francisco Exploratorium. En el 2003, representó a Colombia en la Bienal de Venecia. Cardoso se mudó a Sídney, Australia en 1997, ciudad donde actualmente vive y trabaja. En el 2012, obtuvo su doctorado (PhD) del Sydney College for the Arts.

Las obras de María Fernanda Cardoso están presentes en varias colecciones que incluyen The Arts Centre Gold, Surfers Paradise, Australia; Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, Bogotá, Colombia; Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, FL, USA; Colección Cisneros, Venezuela; Daros Latinamerica, Zürich, Switzerland; The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL, USA; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Bogotá, Colombia; Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sídney, Australia; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, USA; and Tate Gallery, London, UK.

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