Mai-Thu Perret
Sylvania, 2006

This artwork was featured in New Work: Mai-Thu Perret. Learn more about SFMOMA’s New Work series.

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Artist name
Mai-Thu Perret
Date created
steel, wire, papier-mâché, acrylic, gouache, and synthetic fibers
86 5/8 in. × 53 1/8 in. × 23 5/8 in. (220 cm × 135 cm × 60 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Accessions Committee Fund purchase
© Mai-Thu Perret
Permanent URL
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

Audio Stories

Who is Sylvania?

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This sculpture, Sylvania, is part of Swiss artist Mai-Thu Perret’s nonlinear narrative The Crystal Frontier. It’s a story about a community of women who have moved to the desert of the Southwest to escape from patriarchy and capitalism by creating a utopian society. The Crystal Frontier is a conceptual framework for many of Perret’s sculptures and art objects. Here’s Curator Apsara DiQuinzio:



I think that when you approach the work, you see this sort of mysterious figure that’s both abstract but unmistakably a woman. Sylvania is in this sort of devotional pose with her arms upraised. It’s almost like a joyous pose, a celebratory pose. At the same time, it’s also a pose you might see people in when they’re in church, worshipping. Or almost like a yogic pose of some kind.

And she wears this very intricate lace-patterned dress that is based on the pattern of wood grain. And I think that immediately, you’re drawn to the sort of intricacy of the dress. But then that contrasts so heavily to the sort of odd, rough-hewn nature of the actual body, which is just made out of papier-mâché. It’s a dress that actually can’t be worn in the real world because it’s so delicate. And I think that’s important to note, in the sense that it denotes that this is a sort of imaginary world that these objects inhabit.

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Other Works by Mai-Thu Perret

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