Edgar Calel


Ru k’ ox k’ob’el jun ojer etemab’el (The echo of an ancient knowledge)








Fruit and rock installation

Credits: Courtesy of the artist and Proyectos Ultravioleta
Photographs: James Retief and Benjamin Deaking

With this work, Guatemalan artist Edgar Calel pays tribute to the indigenous Kaqchikel civilization to reclaim its contemporaneity and draw attention to the racist ignorance that surrounds it. Calel brings together the Kaqchikel worldview and contemporary art in an installation that reproduces the altars of indigenous spirituality in a gallery. Like a Mayan ritual, the work comprises an offering of food (a symbol of life) placed on stones (a symbol of the past) on the gallery floor. The food offerings represent a moment to celebrate and glorify the heritage and cultural memory of indigenous peoples and, in Calel’s work, are a central element in his research on how geo-cultural transformations and social displacement influence and change the collective memory of a people and culture. Among the fruits and vegetables on display (corn, lemon, mango, etc.), four large bunches of bananas stand out, placed on the highest stones of the installation, reflecting their prominence in indigenous culture. Faithful to his commitment to the Kaqchikel community and its exchange culture, this work is currently in the custody of the Tate Modern Museum in London for thirteen years (symbolic of the thirteen joints of the body) and the museum has to activate it periodically through a ritual. In this way, the work continues to belong to the Kaqchikel community. There are also seven versions of the piece according to the number of stars in the Ursa Minor constellation. In Ru k’ ox k’ob’el jun ojer etemab’el (The echo of an ancient knowledge), Calel preserves the inherited memory and mediates so that this knowledge dialogues with other cultures.