Patricia Figueiredo uses her deep understanding of Dadaism as a foundation for her collage work, inspired by the infinite possibilities that Dada presents in the constructions and interpretations of new realities. One of her major themes is the idea of emptiness created by the losses and pain inherent to human beings; this idea is enhanced through the physicality of working in analog collage. The act of carefully removing figures from their original placements with scissors, often facilitates a connection between her and the images in her work.
The connection Figueiredo feels to the figures in We Are All Marias stems from her observations on the relation between gendered violence and religion in her home country of Brazil. As a strongly Catholic country, mothers often name their daughters Maria in reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus, often portrayed in Catholicism as a saint and a martyr. Simultaneously, Brazil experiences one of the highest rates of violence towards women in the world, with one study from 2015 showing that every seven minutes a woman was a victim of domestic violence in Brazil, and over 70% of the Brazilian female population will suffer some kind of violence throughout their lifetime. Figueiredo relates this expectation of sainthood for women in her country to the violence that they are regularly subjected to in a misogynistic, patriarchal society.
“The patriarchal culture, centered on the male figure, develops chauvinism and develops the foundations of male domination. The concept of gender superiority…and sexism help fuel the idea of devaluation and prejudice against women. Misogyny is the main [ideology] responsible for most of the murders of women…[as well as] forms of physical and psychological aggression, mutilation, sexual abuse, torture, persecution, [and] other violence related directly or indirectly to the female gender.”
In We Are All Marias, Figueiredo criticizes the misogynistic trope that saintlike women are free from the abuse perpetrated by men on such a large scale in Brazil, by reminding the viewer that the abuse is not a result of the woman’s behavior, but through virtue of being a woman in an oppressively religious, male-centered society.
“The martyrdom of a grieving mother creates this contradiction between hope and reality. Some women hope that their daughters will be blessed and spared, and others reflect the suffering in their own stories.”