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Maya Gurantz: Deipnophoroi

Maya Gurantz: Deipnophoroi
October 7, 2017 – February 11, 2018
Opening Reception: October 7, 7-10pm

Ancient Greek biographer and essayist  Plutarch (c. AD 46-120) writes of an ancient Greek festival in which the community, as an initiation for young men coming of age, would reenact sending their youth to King Minos of Crete to be fed as sacrifice to the Minotaur.   The only women allowed to participate in this ceremony were given the role of the mothers of the sacrificial tribute — labeled Deipnophoroi, or “food bringers”— performing the task of comforting their children with stories and food in the face of a sure and terrible death.

Deipnophoroi, a video diptych, translates this ceremony into contemporary language and contemporary fears, exploring the strange job a mother faces when preparing one’s child for the unutterable.    Each video represents a specific preparation — mothers prepare their children for death, enslavement, monsters, and rape — created as mini-collaborations between the artist and different performers (artists, dancers, actors) who are also mothers.  A second work, Non-fiction, a single-channel video, shares interviews with mothers from different backgrounds, discussing their own approaches to raising their children in this difficult and frightening world.   Together, the project — which is ongoing — begins to create taxonomy of maternal language and strategies.   It brings this language, which so often remains secret, into the art space — a space that as well does not often offer room for the mother.

In the artists own words “Mothers are left to clean up disasters, bring food, comfort and most of all prepare our children when they are faced with the terrors of the world. And yet, more often than not, when mothers speak the truth too explicitly we are turned into monsters ourselves.”

Deipnophoroi continues Gurantz’s constellation of projects constituted around two long-term, occasionally overlapping sites of  research — the explorations into constructions of female experience and mother wit; and narratives of spiritualism and madness.


Maya Gurantz is an artist in video and performance. Her work has been shown at the MCA Denver, Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall, the Oakland Art Museum of California, High Desert Test Sites 2013, Autonomie Gallery, LAX><ART, Angels Gate Cultural Center, ArtCenter, and Movement Research at Judson Church, among others. She has produced commissions of public video installations for The Great All of Oakland and the 2016 Field Experiment Atlanta. Her writing has appeared in The LA Review of Books, ACID-FREE, Notes on Looking, The Awl, This American Life, Avidly, RECAPS magazine, and inDance Magazine. She teaches at UC Santa Barbara.

Deipnophoroi and Non-Fictions were created as a GCAC artist-in-residence project of Maya Gurantz through the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.