Room 002.17
Men of Maize

Pivoting around the tension between the Indigenous and the colonial, the marginal and the dominant, are different contemporary artists from Guatemala whose work is profoundly linked to Mayan culture and its language, family history and places of life and work, as well as inherited notions around the sacred.

 

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Room 002.17 Room 002.17
Room 002.17

Room 002.17

Pivoting around the tension between the Indigenous and the colonial, the marginal and the dominant, are different contemporary artists from Guatemala whose work is profoundly linked to Mayan culture and its language, family history and places of life and work, as well as inherited notions around the sacred.

The performance ritual, language and its translations as a strategy of cultural resistance opposite Westernisation and colonialism, the use of textiles as a reference point for traditional shamanistic practices and the analysis of the exoticisation and mechanisms of representation of Mayan culture are some of the motifs and mediums that uncoil in this room. Thus, it condenses critical awareness and decolonial strategies and the empowerment of a society, together with the cultural resistance of new generations of artists from the region.

The title of the room comes from the novel Men of Maize, published in 1949 by Miguel Ángel Asturias, a Guatemalan writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Taking as a reference Popol Vuh, a book encapsulating the knowledge of Mayan tradition, and from the belief of the Mayan people that their flesh was made of maize, Asturias confronts two types of society based on the use they make of the cereal: while the Indigenous peoples respect its sacred and integrating value, the corn farmers who fell the trees to expand arable land do not see beyond commercial gain. Nevertheless, the writer’s main approach to Indigenous motifs is problematic or ambiguous, and is somehow framed within creole thought that has governed Guatemalan society, a racist conception which has prolonged the marginalisation of all non-white bodies.

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