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Latin America

Guatemala City, Guatemala: Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, El guardián del bosque+

Narrative and performance interweave in Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa’s (Guatemala, 1978) practice through the use of images and sculptural objects linking history and autobiography. El guardián del bosque (The Guardian of the Forest) arises from research carried out by Ramírez-Figueroa in December 2017 in Rio Negro, in the regions of Alta and Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. The artist explores the historical memory and political reality of the ruins of Kawinal, an archeological site of post classic Mayan culture that was flooded in order to construct the hydroelectric dam of Chixoy. Construction began in 1975 to be inaugurated in 1983—in a supposed effort to bring electricity to the country. However, the reality was that the communities living in the area faced the swamping of their lands and properties, and endured the loss of their sacred sites; those who refused to relocate became the victims—many of which were women and children—of what came to be known as the 1982 massacre of Río Negro at the hands of the military, the spectral traces of which still pervade behind the natural and cultural landscape of the region.

Ramírez-Figueroa revisits this event in Guatemalan history to elaborate a narrative that, as many of his projects, is inhabited by hybrid creatures combining human figures, animal or vegetable forms, and bearing sculptural and performative components. The newly commissioned works, Guardián 1, Guardián 2 and Guardián 3 are a series of one-handed tree trunks conceived to be held by a cohort of kids in order to emulate an arid forest of solitary limbs. The work will be presented in dialogue with Ramírez-Figueroa’s El corazón de espantapájaros (Heart of Scarecrow) (2016). In both works, fiction, memory and history collide to enact a danse macabre between violence, resistance and a political reality that spreads beyond the borders of Guatemala, echoing different times and space.

The exhibition, El guardián del bosque is a collaboration between KADIST and Proyectos Ultravioleta, and presents the first chapter of El mensajero del bosque sumergido (The Messenger of the Sunken Forest) a long term project commissioned by KADIST for The Missing Circle that will be developed in different locations. The first iteration of the research was presented as the exhibition La casa en Kawinal (The House at Kawinal) at The New Museum, New York in summer 2018.