Maria Fernanda Cardoso

Spiders of Paradise

31 Aug –
24 Nov 2024

Exhibition developed and toured by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. 

Maria Fernanda Cardoso is internationally renowned for using unconventional and organic materials to consider nature and its links to culture and science. Working across sculpture, photography, installation, video and performance, her work examines the connections and tensions between society and the natural world.

Maria Fernanda was born in Bogota, Columbia in 1963 and has lived and worked in Sydney since 1997. She has exhibited widely in Australia and internationally and represented Colombia at the Venice Biennale in 2003.

Spiders of Paradise presents new works from Cardoso’s Spiders of Paradise photographic series (2018–ongoing), alongside her acclaimed video work On the Origins of Art I-II (2016). Cardoso’s subject is the tiny Australian Maratus spider – measuring less than 5mm in size – and its unique, brightly-coloured abdomen, which plays an important role in its elaborate mating rituals. 

The Maratus spiders of Australia are the most colourful, flamboyant, sexy, and charming spiders on the planet… To me, their use of colour, gesture, sound and movement makes them (…) sophisticated visual and performing artists... They are also the smallest performers I know of…

Maria Fernanda Cardoso

Working across a suite of large-scale photographs, the exquisite multi-coloured patterns of various species of Maratus are presented as individual portraits. Produced in collaboration with scientific imager Geoff Thompson and entomologist Andy Wang from the Queensland Museum, each image is comprised of over 1000 individual photos, which together reveal stunning nuances of colour and form in incredible detail.

Cardoso’s video On the Origins of Art I-II presents the complex courtship ritual of the Maratus at an immersive scale. It showcases the spider’s sophisticated communication through dance and vibration, culminating in the display of its colourful patterned abdominal flap. Bringing together science, art and nature, this exhibition celebrates the beauty of the natural world and reveals the sophisticated lives of creatures not usually witnessed.



Selected works



Maria Fernanda CARDOSO
Spiders of Paradise: Maratus speciosus  2023
Pigment print on paper, framed
Courtesy the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney © the artist

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