Cathy Burghi

Cathy Burghi studied art at Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Montevideo, and at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. However, Burghi has developed most of her work in France where she moved in 2007. Burghi’s work is made up of drawings, installations, performances, among others, which makes her a multidisciplinary artist, and her areas of interest are cultural and female identity, memory, and migration. Since 2006, Burghi has held solo and group exhibitions in salons, biennials, galleries and different cultural centres at international level.


Text by professor, artist and curator Nicole Lima (Curitiba, Brazil)

Cathy Burghi was born on November 20, 1980 in Montevideo.

In 2001 Cathy Burghi entered the National School of Fine Arts, where she studied visual arts. In 2006, she won a scholarship to do an exchange program at UFMG in Belo Horizonte. From 2007 to 2015 she lived and worked in France, and her works have been exhibited in several countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, Uruguay, France, Belgium and Japan. She currently lives and works in Florianópolis.

During her wanderings around the world, she got married, and had two daughters: Vera Louise (named after Louise Bourgeois) and Chloe. In our first conversation, Cathy told me that Vera Louise had been born many weeks premature and Cathy found in the milk that flowed from her body a strong bond of protection and affection; it was also a way to provide and guarantee life for her daughter.

The event of maternity that crosses the artist’s body, in Cathy’s case, also irreversibly crossed her production. The presence of the maternal body: source of nourishment and protection, but which also inhabits the body of a desiring woman, of a social being, of a subject sometimes even unknown behind so many bodies she seeks to configure, is translated in her works into different structures.
Her production is developed in various media, ranging from sculptures, embroidery, to photographs and video animations and installations. But among all of them, I find it necessary to say that Cathy Burghi is a woman who draws, every day, as much as air is necessary for us.

Cathy’s drawings are delicate, but make no mistake: there is strength, there is pain, there is violence, and there is also beauty. Her figures transit the universe between the maternal body and subjectivity, intending these two poles that cohabit, although not always peacefully. How to coordinate the desire to be, to exist, with the desire to be a mother?

While Rousseau defines the male body as the one that takes possession of and domesticates nature, that cuts, invades, colonizes, and transforms the savage to create civilization, the woman’s body is presented as an extension of nature. If the woman’s body can be seen with a garden, this can be both a wild and harsh body and a geometrically designed, cultivated body, like a French garden.

What is, after all, expected from a woman? What do we do to please, to not feel outside this system? What is the scope of our desire, from and in spite of the reproductive issues of social expectations?

In her series, the titles sometimes name the series as a whole, but other times they name single pieces that also exist autonomously. If on the one hand her drawings seem contradictory, humorous, or even sarcastic, on the other hand they also represent fertility, the fluidity of pulses and cycles that renew and alternate themselves. These bodies are, in her own words: oneiric, schematic, mutant. They are bodies in movement within their constant metamorphosis. Bodies that dance from the center, between their choices and stories. Like the idea of the bride, of getting married, of the woman who is wrapped in this perverse enchantment that is concretized in the outstretched hand that displays a commitment ring, but that also refers to the circle of the navel, of life, and of the empty space in its center.

Maybe inhabiting her own drawing is, for Cathy, also inhabiting her own desire, in this “disordered” body that is home, food, and paths, which do not always flow, but inevitably overflow as they try to coexist at the same time. This internal tension also expands towards the other and its surroundings, in bodies that try to cohabit, like in the 3 houses that create a third form, or like a connecting thread that can be read as paths to reach this ideal little house where a family lives but also has viscera coming out.

It doesn’t fit. It overflows.

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