Babe nin baxaj bi ni ropop ru xik ri qi k´ux ri winaqi xke tzolin kamin
Here I am listening to the fluttering of the spirit of the people who will return today
Acá estoy escuchado el aleteo del espíritu de las personas que retornaran hoy
EDGAR CALEL, Lives and works in San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala
Performances, installations, paintings, drawings by Calel evoke memories of his family and pay homage to the indigenous communities of the midwestern highlands of Guatemala. His works can be understood as visual chants, embodied poems or as Naoj, closest concept related to art in the Mayan language spoken in the artist’s hometown San Juan Comalapa, encompassing the broader scope of «knowledge-wisdom-understanding». Calel’s works not only reflect Mayan cosmovision, habits and beliefs, but also question contemporary representations of indigeneity permeated by fetishization and preconceived expectations inherently discriminatory and violent.
One of the strategies of the artist in this sense is precisely to foreground the invisible, the untranslatable, the ungraspable: all of which resist prejudice and Western epistemologies centered in rationality and materiality. These are central questions to Calel in the context of his online residency at tropical papers, started in December 2020. What are the potentialities of language, memory and presence in times of self-isolation, social distancing and physical absence? How can relationality and synchronicity be conceived and reconsidered in a digital and physical realm in a (post-) pandemic world? Edgar Calel’s « knowledge-wisdom-understanding » appears as an invitation to approach fluid conceptions of body, territory, ancestrality and community as thresholds in constant movement and transformation. @oliviardui