Mandy Cano Villalobos is an installation artist whose work focuses on personal memory. Her early works are deeply personal and intimate, dealing with belongings of her family members and her. An early work, Undone (2006) is a wooden cabinet filled with balls of thread and yarn. Each ball of fabric is a piece of unraveled clothing that she has reassembled into balls of yarn. Each is labeled – “Big Daddy’s favorite sweater,” “Tim’s gloves,” “The sweater nobody wanted to wear anymore.” The original forms and functions of these objects exist only as memories or imagined memories for the viewer.
Analog: Private Life (2008) consists of tapes, tape recorders, earphones, and carrying cases. Each tape is a recording of banal moments of life, such as showering, eating and checking email. These tapes are then meticulously labeled and categorized.
Family Meals (2005-2006) consist of food extracts sheathed between plexi-glass. This work is a wonderful illustration of change, the passage of time, and desire to remember. While these foods are saved as an artifact for remembrance of family and community, the samples of food continue to mold and congeal. A wonderful illustration of the idea that items, these memories, still exist but that our memories can become confused and blurred and disintegrate, despite our efforts and desires to hold onto those intangible moments in our lives.
Her more current works have become more geared to social and political commentary, and the work deals with the memory and identity of specific individuals. Voces (“Voices”) (2008-present) is in mourning and protest of the femicide in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Mandy Cano Villalobos sits to the side of the gallery, embroidering the names of individual murder victims into white blouses, starting with the first documented victims in 1993.
Her most current work, Identity/Identification, is a gridded quilt of Rol Unico Nacional (RUN) Numbers assigned to Chilean residents by the government. When the quilt is finished it will have 27,153 RUNs of political prisoners who were tortured, disappeared or executed under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinoched (1973-1990). Each RUN is hand sewn with human hair onto white fabric.
Throughout her works Mandy Cano Villalobos deals with the concept of memory and identity through mementos. Her early works are of a more personal and familial nature that allows the viewers to image her memories and her family, to develop their own narrative. While her later works confront viewers with the memories of missing and murdered people. These works make the viewer question the state of their government, community, and themselves.