Los Aristócratas de la Selva y la Reina de
Castilla is a work in progress of several different components
which interact here within the existing architectural conditions of the
exhibition space. The parcours of this presentation has its center in the
nave containing the four ship models at a scale of 1:20 of one Coca, two
caravels, the Pinta and the Niña, beside the vessel Santa
Those ship models signify through their
straightforward, magnificent manufacturing, the nautical technology and
engineering at the time of the Discovery of the Américas. The Santa
María, originally built from the wood of Cantabrian forests,
emphasizes the great maritime culture of this rough coast. The boats rest
on steel bases, materializing the ocean sea.
baldachin is flanked by ten columns which are stained with Onoto seeds
(Bixa orellana L.) by hand. A plant source, used for body paint by most
South and Central American native peoples. A circumstance which mistakenly
led, early on, to the name 'Red Skin.' This vibrant pigment and its
aroma signify in this piece animism, the belief cosmos of Amerindian
societies. Enclosed by chinchorros from the native Warao of the
Delta Amacuro in Venezuela, the centre is transformed into the inner
sections of a ship itself. It also represents the central plaza of a native
house; shapono, maloka, or churuata, as a protected
world, mirroring the surrounding cosmos and its firmament. The chain of
hammocks creates a barrier making the center inaccessible. It mutates it
into a taboo zone and a space of reflection. Surrounded by a score of
native river names which represent the rapidly vanishing tongue of the
non-writing societies of the; Pemón (Arekuna, Taurepan, Kamarakoto,
Ingariko), Yé kuana, Hoti, Panare, Piaroa, Warao, Arawak, Sanema,
Yãnomãmɨ, Baré, Makú, Wapishana, Makushi, Wai
Wai ... All the letters stand out in four colours within the obscure
infinity of the enclosing black-painted walls. The configuration of the
river names follows partly geographical order and linguistic parameters.
They are phonetically composed and in their playful dance they map a
typographical landscape of the Guiana shield in Venezuela, Brazil, British
Guiana and Suriname. Their archaic melody of native place names and the
remains of their many languages will only survive in our maps.
Accompanied in intervals by the music of 'Luces y Sombras en el tiempo de
la primera gran Reina del Renacimiento,' by Jordi Savall, the sound of
the Caribbean Sea and the singing of the Pareshera Tukuí by an
Arekuna shaman, this mental space is embraced by the screening of six
ethnographic films (108 min). The material for this projection, was
generated out of nine hours of 16 mm film, made while I lived among the
Yãnomãmɨ at the Alto Orinoco in Venezuela and Brazil for an
uninterrupted eighteen months in 1978–80. Their endangered culture is
present in this documentary of the last days before collapsing into misery
34 years ago.
A selection from my personal 'Biblioteca
Guayanesa' is framed by some gelatine silver prints from my Montaigne
Series, 1977–1985, which were photographed in La Gran Sabana. All
elements, technics and materials are balanced within a canon and integrate
seamlessly with each other. They establish a referential momentum for a
historical time frame.
The content of this work is only to be
accomplished through the full consideration of all involved elements,
materials and the sensorial appearance of the surfaces of all shape giving
transformations to the space.
To host the artwork, the architect Lorenzo Piqueras has conceived the
architectural layout of the exhibition space and the furniture, he has also
supervised the construction of the ship models.
The ship models
of one Coca, two caravels, the Pinta and the Niña and the vessel
Santa María were built in a time frame of four months by
Adrían Prada, Orienta Si and Cesc Riera.