Portrait of Márcia X.

Born in 1959 in Rio de Janeiro, Márcia Pinheiro de Oliveira began in 1985 to sign her name as Márcia X. Best known today for her groundbreaking performances, Márcia X. also created three-dimensional objects, installations, drawings, prints, and wearable art pieces. She started her career in 1980, after joining the collective Cuidado Louças in the performance-installation Cozinhar-te (To cook you), presented at the 3rd Salão Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Rio de Janeiro. Cozinhar-te was a communal space where visitors and artists cooked, ate, and talked.

Collaborative work played a central role in Márcia X.'s early career. Together with the artist Ana Cavalcanti, she performed the piece Chuva de dinheiro (Rain of money, 1983) on the streets of downtown Rio de Janeiro. Chuva announced another fundamental aspect of her production: the critical use of humor to challenge prevalent social norms and values. From 1984 to 1991 Márcia X. worked closely with the poet and artist Alex Hamburger (b. 1949) in a long list of performances, such as Celofane Hotel Suíte (1985–86) and Sex Manisse (1987). In 1985, during John Cage's only visit to Brazil, they rode children's tricycles around a staging of Cage's Winter Music and named the action Tricyclage. In Márcia X.'s exhibition Exposição de ícones do gênero humano (1988), she invited people to the opening reception, during which nothing was displayed. The next day photographs and a video of the visitors were exhibited in the gallery.

During the 1990s, now working mostly solo, the artist focused on three-dimensional pieces incorporating cheap materials and imagery found in popular stores in Rio. She often confronted aspects of sexuality considered taboo, as in Fábrica fallus (Phallus factory, 1992–2004), a series of reconfigured dildos, often decorated with religious or childish images. During the early 2000s Márcia X. returned to performances and installations. First realized in 2000, her performance Desenhando com terços (Drawing with rosaries) started with the artist sitting on the floor and shaping rosaries in the form of penises; the resulting drawings were then exhibited. Considered offensive by the Catholic Church, the piece was censored in 2006. For another important performance-installation, Pancake (2001), Márcia X. poured condensed milk and candy sprinkles onto herself and then exhibited the remnants of the act. In 2004 she performed her last work, A cadeira careca / La chaise chauve (The bald chair), with Ricardo Ventura (b. 1962) and Aimberê Cesar (b. 1958).

The artist died in 2005 at the age of forty-six. In 2013 the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro organized Projeto Acervo Márcia X, with a catalogue of the artist's work and a series of discussions on her production, and Arquivo X, an exhibition including artworks and documents. Most of Márcia X.'s works and archives belong to the Museu de Arte Moderna and, to a lesser extent, the Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Niterói.

—Mariana von Hartenthal

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1990 Márcia X: Coleção gênios da pintura, Galeria Casa Triângulo, São Paulo

1995 Márcia X: Os kaminhas sutrinhas, Espaço Cultural Sérgio Porto, Rio de Janeiro

1997 Márcia X: Soberba, Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro

2005 Márcia X: Revista, Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro

2013 Arquivo X: Márcia X. Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro

Selected Bibliography

Basbaum, Ricardo. "'X': Percurso de alguém além das equações." Concinnitas: Revista do Instituto de Artes da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro 4 (March 2003): 165–73.

Hamburger, Alex. "Márcia X. Burguer." Concinnitas: Revista do Instituto de Artes da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, no. 24 (July 2014). http://www.e-publicacoes.uerj.br/index.php/concinnitas/article/view/13269/10168.

Lemos, Beatriz, ed. Márcia X. Rio de Janeiro: Museu de Arte Moderna, 2013.

Lemos, Beatriz, Alexandre Sá, and Denise Milfont, eds. Encontros X. Rio de Janeiro: Museu de Arte Moderna, 2013.

Sá, Alexandre. "Márcia X: Uma antibiografia." Concinnitas: Revista do Instituto de Artes da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, no. 24 (July 2014). http://www.e-publicacoes.uerj.br/index.php/concinnitas/article/view/13270/10169.