Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa
Illusion of Matter

Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa’s work Illusion of Matter was made specifically for the camera and established a dream state through a composition of motifs that were drawn from childhood memories, and that were recreated as giant props made out of polystyrene set in a colorful yellow and orange mise-en-scene. Throughout the five minutes of the performance, the props and set were activated and demolished by children under the artist’s direction. The performance ends as the artist walking slowly towards the camera holding a ghostly mask/figure in front of their body. This work was the first in the ongoing commission by the performance network Corpus, in which the artist attempts to exhaust my interest into the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-96). The work was commissioned by Tate Modern’s “Live Series” and Corpus Network.

In Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa’s performative practice, narrative and its corresponding sculptural props play a major role in weaving together pre-Columbian civilizations, seditious brotherhoods, evangelism, and imperialism. In an unsettling dream-like fashion, many of his works operate as non-narrative fictions that depart from his personal experience of Guatemalan history—particularly the country’s civil war that ran from 1960 to 1996 and in which members of his family took an active part—but always distancing himself from a documentary take on history. Thus, the artist creates fable-like situations, which mix memories and visions from his childhood with the right dose of pathos and humor, and that address further cultural and political events such as the war’s genocide of Mayan populations, the infiltration of Mormon missionaries in the country, and the contemporary followers of apocalyptic conspiracies.