Domestic Mythology


Domestic Mythology

Most women in Mexico perform domestic work. Some get paid as housekeepers, but many more perform hours of daily chores, childcare, and other housework without getting paid or even acknowledged. Although their contributions are usually ignored, they keep the Mexican economy going. Maria Ezcurra explores their contribution with her work "The Perfect Housewife," "Waitress," and "Domestic Mythology."
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© Maria Ezcurra

Maria Ezcurra focuses her artwork on the issue of identity of the female body and the position that women occupy in society. In her work, which is represented either by sculptures or documentation of installations and performance art, Ezcurra depicts stereotypical acts of femininity that parody gender intolerance. Her goal in her work is to encourage the expansion of human and civil rights for women today.

For Focusing on Latin America, Ezcurra presents three projects: "The Perfect Housewife," "Waitress" and "Domestic Mythology." "The Perfect Housewife" shows Ezcurra performing typical acts of domestic work: Ironing, serving food, and sitting with a husband. Similarly, "Waitress" shows Ezcurra acting as the typical female hostess. In both "The Perfect Housewife" and "Waitress", Ezcurra literally incorporates herself into the work, wearing clothes that conform to and are incorporated in the domestic act, symbolizing how women and domestic work are assumed to be irrevocably combined. This domestic work is a form of repression, and in some intangible way, a form of domestic violence.

In "Domestic Mythology," Ezcurra presents a series of embroidered fabric pieces that depict mythological creatures performing domestic work. The aim is to depict the idea that the stereotype of a woman, a "domestic goddess", is nothing more than a myth. In using embroidery on fabric, Ezcurra sends this message using a typically feminine medium.


In Latin America, 81 percent of women without their own income do unpaid domestic work. Experts believe that the financial crisis has aggravated the gap between paid work and unpaid care and work that women provide to children, the elderly, and other family members, and that now more women than ever are performing unpaid domestic work.

While not necessarily fair, the division between men's paid work and women's unpaid work has been essential to economic systems because it guarantees a workforce subsidized by unpaid women's work, since women produce goods and provide services for free that would otherwise need to be paid for with salaries or by the government.
On the other hand, unpaid caregivers often receive less respect in society, and their work is not incorporated into economic measures such as GDP.
Besides the many women who perform unpaid domestic work, there are also at least two million paid domestic workers in Mexico. Domestic work is the third most important source of income for Mexican women, yet its value is not recognized as integral to the economy, and domestic workers usually have no job security or benefits and receive very little respect. They are often paid an average of $6 US dollars a day for shifts that last 12 hours or longer. 


María Ezcurra was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1973 and has lived in Mexico since 1978. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the National School of Plastic Arts, and received a Masters in Visual Arts from the Chelsea School of London in 1998. She has an MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute. Ezcurra has participated in over 50 individual and 10 group exhibitions in countries such as Australia, USA, England, Holland, Greece, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico. In 2007 she was invited to participate in the Artist Pension Trust in Mexico City. Her work is in several private collections, as well as in the Hishhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., USA, and the University of Essex in Britain. She has taught at La Esmeralda, the UACM, Central and UAEM, where she has worked since 2001.


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