The Sixth State
Aug 16th – Nov 4th, 2018
Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, Mexico City, Mexico
Commissioned by Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, it is an installation derived from the history of the sixth state of Los Altos: a region between Guatemala and Mexico that attempted to secede from the central powers of the capital city of Guatemala between 1838 -1849, during the post-colonial process of the political and geographical formation of Central America. The creation of this state generated a Caste War between an elite of European descent that was trying to claim independence (motivated by economic interests), and the local indigenous people who were excluded from the separatist movement. This cultural and political exclusion is a condition that persists in present day Latin America.
The stage that Ramírez-Figueroa presents in The Sixth State could well be a materialization of the second stanza in Carlos Pellicer’s poem Elegía nocturna (Nocturnal Elegy): “(The deep foot over the black ground bled of lights all the journeys. Before the geographic feet, silent, your invisible doors, Paradise.)”
The legs that fall over the Cube’s floor, step, dance, or march in the center of a modern light that relates to what the artist characterizes as institutionalized decadence; an allusion to the failure of the productivist paradigm in the continent. To the right side of the room, we see the throne of Atanasio Tzul—leader of the Maya K’iche and of the people that formed the indigenous government—who organized an important uprising in favor of the local people in 1821. The insurgency directed by Tzul, served as encouragement for the revolts in the sixth state of Los Altos. Naufus’ installation includes this glorified chair and a fluorescent choreography, a nightmare about the recuperation of paradise, returning once more to Pellicer. “(… Before the geographic feet, silent, your invisible doors, Paradise.)”
On the museum’s second floor we find four paintings made with gold and silver leaf and obsidian and jade dust; the first two, precious metals, coveted by Europeans who invaded the continent, while obsidian (volcanic crystal) and jade (mineral) are materials that have high commercial and utilitarian values for Mayan cultures of the region. The pieces show geometric patterns known in mathematics as Rep-tiles, because of their resemblance to the patterns in the skin of different reptiles. With these paintings, Ramírez-Figueroa references what has been named in conspiracy theories “a reptilian race”, a political dominant elite that lives among us and has controlled the world for centuries.