Ilana Savdie


oil, acrylic, and beeswax on canvas stretched on panel
16 x 20 inches

Colombian-born, New York-based artist Ilana Savdie often uses the marimonda figure, associated with the carnival of her hometown Barranquilla. Savdie describes her use of the figure:

The marimonda is the sort of figurehead of the Colombian carnival, omnipresent throughout the country as a representation of the festive spirit of us costeños, the people of the coast. Though its meaning has changed in recent decades as it was incorporated and became the figurehead of the carnival, the origin of the costume is said to come from the 1800s as a means of mocking an oppressive social elite. The mask is said to be a combination of a primate and an elephant and worn with an oversized suit and tie. I am interested most in this origin story and the use of the exaggerated body as a form of mockery and mockery as a form of protest. We can locate in that a very queer history of exaggerating the body and taking up space beyond imposed and oppressive boundaries as forms of resistance and protest.

In Deliberate Rotation of The Nips (y un Manguito), the marimonda looks down at a body made of Savdie’s characteristic bright colors and sections of varying paint application. The title suggests a playfully sexual moment, though the figure has a strange, distant quality as if caught in a quiet moment of investigating its own physical presence. Savdie received her MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2018 and was awarded the 2020 TOY Foundation fellowship and the 2020 NXTHVN studio fellowship. Her works are in collections such as Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Burger Collection, Hong Kong; and The Rachofsky Collection, Dallas.