Martine Gutierrez is imagining a different reality for the fashion world


Martine Gutierrez is imagining a different reality for the fashion world. The Brooklyn-based artist was the editor, model, stylist and photographer on a 2018 project, Indigenous Woman Magazine, which became a fully realised, 124-page satirical publication, shining a light on beauty standards and stereotypes—and exploring what would happen if they were flipped.

Cairns Art Gallery is exhibiting aspects of the project, split into three sections: Neo Indio (self-portraiture referencing Gutierrez’s Mayan Indian heritage), Queer Rage (exploring her transgender identity) and Masking (focusing on the face as a marker of self, and how it can be hidden or revealed).

“The Masking series is related to an exhibition we had last year called Faceless, where we were looking at how Indigenous and First Nations artists were using the concept of masking to look at their identity and, in many cases, their invisibility within society,” says gallery director Andrea May Churcher. “In this case, Gutierrez uses masking to critique the whole area of stereotypical beauty.”

In 2022 the gallery conceived of an exhibition expanding on Gutierrez’s work at PHOTO 2022 in Victoria, liaising with the artist to ensure an accurate representation of her project. The magazine will sit alongside large-scale photographs of scenes including a face obscured with flora, and a busy, colourful jungle collage. The variety gives viewers different perspectives on the project, which is at once irreverent and probing. “There’s a measure of humour and absurdity, but at the same time, she’s dealing with really important issues,” says Churcher.

“There’s also the appropriation of Indigenous culture in fashion, which has happened for many years,” she continues. “Fashion, identity and portraiture are really strong things that can be explored by artists. It’s about breaking down all those stereotypes and labels that are put on people.”

Indigenous Woman Magazine
Martine Gutierrez
Cairns Art Gallery
Until 18 June

This article was originally published in the May/June 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen