Born in Maceió in 1943, the Brazilian artist Martha Araújo studied education at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, graduating in 1970. In 1977 she earned a master's degree in education from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro. Between 1984 and 1987 she worked under the guidance of the sculptor Haroldo Barroso (1935–1989) at the Museu do Ingá in Niterói, and in 1986 she studied at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro. Although she was educated primarily in Rio de Janeiro, Araújo has spent most of her life in Maceió, a city far from Brazil's major art institutions. This marginal position meant that her work has remained largely under the radar, although she has participated in exhibitions since the 1980s and received an award at the 10th Salão Carioca de Artes in Rio de Janeiro (1986).
During the early 1980s Araújo began creating what she called "performatic objects." These were wearable textile pieces that invited public participation and combined performance and sculpture, as in the works Hábito/Habitante (Habit/inhabitant, 1985) and Para um corpo nas suas impossibilidades (For a body in its impossibilities, 1985). These works focus on issues central to Araújo's art research: the limits of the body, the play between repression and freedom, and the relationship between the self and the other. The artist has continued to create sculptures and participatory installations in a wide variety of mediums. In recent years she has explored photography and video in an investigation of the construction of subjectivity. Araújo's production has attracted attention from the art world in Brazil and abroad during the last decade. In 2014 pieces from the series Hábito/Habitante were included in the group exhibition Artevida, organized by Adriano Pedrosa and Rodrigo Moura at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage. In the same year Araújo was featured in the 12th Biennial of Cuenca in Ecuador and 3rd Bienal da Bahia in Salvador, Brazil. In 2014 she was invited to contribute to the 3rd Mostra do Programa de Exposições at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil in São Paulo and has participated in the group exhibition Ultrapassado at Gallery Broadway 1602 in New York. In 2015 Araújo had her first solo exhibition in Europe.
—Mariana von Hartenthal
Selected Solo Exhibitions
1986 Martha Araújo: Hábito/Habitante, Galeria do Centro Empresarial, Rio de Janeiro
1994 Martha Araújo, Galeria de Arte Associação Cultural Brasil, Estados Unidos, Salvador, Brazil
2002 Martha Araújo: Entrópicos, Pinacoteca da Universidade Federal de Alagoas, Maceió, Brazil
2015 Martha Araújo: Hábito/Habitante, Galería PM8, Vigo, Spain
2015 Martha Araújo: Para um corpo pleno de vazios, Galeria Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo
Araújo, Martha, and Manuela Moscoso. Martha Araújo: Para um corpo pleno de vazios. São Paulo: Galeria Jaqueline Martins, 2015.
Martínez Domínguez, Chus. "Las telas opresoras de Martha Araújo." El País, October 29, 2015.
Molina, Camila. "Artista Martha Araújo vive o resgate de sua obra performática." O Estado de São Paulo, February 15, 2015.
Munder, Heike, ed. Resistance Performed: An Anthology on Aesthetic Strategies under Repressive Regimes in Latin America. Zurich: Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, 2015.
Pedrosa, Adriano, ed. Artevida. Vol. 1. São Paulo: Cobogó, 2015.