Remedio Milenario, Códice de la Cruz – Badiano p. 61

Mariana Castillo Deball and Tatiana Falcón

Casa de Mexico, Madrid, Spain

October 1, 2021 - Januari 9, 2022

 

 

Installation view of the exhibition Remedio Milenario, Códice de la Cruz – Badiano p.61, Casa de Mexico, Madrid, Spain, 2021.

Installation view of the exhibition Remedio Milenario, Códice de la Cruz – Badiano p.61, Casa de Mexico, Madrid, Spain, 2021.

Installation view of the exhibition Remedio Milenario, Códice de la Cruz – Badiano p.61, Casa de Mexico, Madrid, Spain, 2021.

Installation view of the exhibition Remedio Milenario, Códice de la Cruz – Badiano p.61, Casa de Mexico, Madrid, Spain, 2021.

Installation view of the exhibition Remedio Milenario, Códice de la Cruz – Badiano p.61, Casa de Mexico, Madrid, Spain, 2021.

Installation view of the exhibition Remedio Milenario, Códice de la Cruz – Badiano p.61, Casa de Mexico, Madrid, Spain, 2021.

Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis, also known as Códice de la Cruz – Badiano,1552 Martin de la Cruz, translated by Juan Badiano

installation view of Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis, also known as Códice de la Cruz – Badiano, 1552

Contra infantium adustione, I, II, III, IV, V and VI, watercolour on cotton paper and lacquer pigments, 2021

Installation view of the exhibition Remedio Milenario, Códice de la Cruz – Badiano p.61, Casa de Mexico, Madrid, Spain, 2021.

Installation view of the exhibition Remedio Milenario, Códice de la Cruz – Badiano p.61, Casa de Mexico, Madrid, Spain, 2021.

 

 

In Tlili in Tlapalli

Images of the new land: indigenous identity after the conquest

Diana Magaloni, Mariana Castillo Deball and Tatiana Falcón

 

Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico

September 1 – November 26, 2018

The colors used in the Florentine Codex were recreated in the laboratory from the original recipes and from the chemical analysis of the pigments.

The color samples were painted in small circles of paper with different combinations for testing, until the palette was completed, including both European and pre-Columbian pigments and dyes.

In collaboration with researcher Diana Magaloni the exhibition presents an interpretation/intervention on the origins of our history, where the experience of the indigenous peoples interprets and recreates the moment of the conquest and the transformation of the earth to create a new cultural reality that still marks our way of being and seeing the world.

The exhibition gathers colonial codices from the Biblioteca Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Library of Anthropology and History) and map-paintings from the Archivo General de la Nación (General Archive of the Nation), together with the encyclopedic project known as the Florentine Codex housed in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, in Florence, Italy. Together, the documents examine the indigenous point of view on the conquest and the processes of survival, negotiation, and creation of a New Land.

Our historic indigenous documents are stored in national and foreign archives and libraries and are very difficult to access. That is why they are presented here in various formats, in order to materialize the question: to whom does the past belong? In this way, printed historical copies and projected facsimile reproductions made especially for the exhibition, along with original map-paintings are displayed.

The chemical study of the colors in the Florentine Codex has a relevant role in the exhibition. During her research, Magaloni analyzed and recreated the color palette used in the Codex, verifying that the colors are not just elements used to paint documents. Their composition and origin define the meaning of the images.

Through the materiality of color, Magaloni refers to the images in relation to the Nahua concept of ixiptla (substitute, representative, image). The ixiptla concept derives from the particle -xip: skin or cover since it is the covering that gives identity and physical reality to the essences. That is why Magaloni considers pigments as the skin of images; the colors make them recognizable and powerful presences and not mere representations. Hence, the paintings of the codices and maps were a manner of repainting/making the world emerge after the conquest.

From Magaloni’s research, surges a sculptural constellation, a series of murals, and in collaboration with Tatiana Falcón the transformation of the Museum Colonial Patio into a garden of plants and minerals used for the production of pigments and natural dyes based on the Nahua painting treaty in the Florentine Codex. The arrangement of the garden has as reference the structure of space and time according to the indigenous vision depicted in the Codex Fejérváry-Mayer.

In collaboration with Diana Magaloni and Tatiana Falcón

Para qué me diste las manos llenas de color, todo lo que toque se llenará de sol, 2018

Pigment on plaster, pigment samples and natural dyes, mural.

Tlacuiloque-Painters/writers

Detail: Para qué me diste las manos llenas de color, todo lo que toque se llenará de sol, 2018

Pigment on plaster, pigment samples and natural dyes, mural

The Olmec artists who painted the caves in Oxtotitlán, Guerrero towards 1520 BC, had already discover a manufacturing technique of mineral pigments for red, yellow, blue, black, and white, mixed with a binding medium. Since then, being a painter, tlacuilo in Nahuatl, involved the creation of different colors. The Nahuatl concept to describe “knowledge” is in tlilli, in tlapalli, “the black ink, the colors,” metaphor that describes the action of painting and painting itself: its black contours and its colorful surfaces.

In Book XI, chapter XI of the Florentine Codex we found documented the form in which all the tlapalli, the precious colors, are obtained and manufactured. Each one is associated to a territory where the dye plants grow, or to a mine from which the mineral pigments are obtained; each color is also linked to the producers and to a tlacuilo that applies it to a canvas or a strip of paper. Thus, each color of Book XI is associated with the particular portrait of a painter. This was the strategy followed by the tlacuiloque (plural of tlacuilo) of the Florentine Codex to self-represent themselves as co-authors of the book.

 

In the Cuetlaxcohuapan Codex, however, the tlacuiloque are painted in the lower left part of the document. In the upper row we find the Master painter, who is indicated with the gloss Juan Tlacuilotecuhtli or “Juan, Master painter.” The other painters are identified with the names: Sebastián Chichiumeca Yaotequihua, Chalchihuitecatl, and Antonio Tizapanecatl.

There is another document from the mid-sixteenth century named The Annals of Juan Bautista produced by a group of tlacuiloque. In it, important terms of the profession are defined, such as the tlacuilolcalli, “painting workshop.” Painting is defined as “making appear,” to produce an ixiptla, an image-presence. The group of painters and feather workers is called toltecaye, “artists.” It is described that these workshops operated in various genres: wall paintings, canvases, documents, and oil paintings. It also refers to the painters’ work with the metaphor “he takes out the breath that comes from the altepetl.” Meaning that painting is conceived as a means of ritual re-creation that represents the group, its territory, and its history.

Para qué me diste las manos llenas de color, todo lo que toque se llenará de sol, 2018

Pigment on plaster, pigment samples and natural dyes, mural

Para qué me diste las manos llenas de color, todo lo que toque se llenará de sol, 2018

Pigment on plaster, pigment samples and natural dyes, mural

destroyed

Detail: Para qué me diste las manos llenas de color, todo lo que toque se llenará de sol, 2018

Pigment on plaster, pigment samples and natural dyes, mural

destroyed

The mural is based on the Book XI, chapter XI of the Florentine Codex we found documented the form in which all the tlapalli, the precious colors, are obtained and manufactured. Each one is associated to a territory where the dye plants grow, or to a mine from which the mineral pigments are obtained; each color is also linked to the producers and to a tlacuilo that applies it to a canvas or a strip of paper

The colors used in the Florentine Codex were recreated in the laboratory from the original recipes and from the chemical analysis of the pigments. The color samples were painted in small circles of paper with different combinations for testing, until the palette was completed, including both European and pre-Columbian pigments and dyes.

The tables include dyes and pigments in different processes, from the raw material to the different recipes of  mordants to fix the dyes.

Detail: Para qué me diste las manos llenas de color, todo lo que toque se llenará de sol, 2018

Pigment on plaster, pigment samples and natural dyes, mural

Installation view In Tlilli in Tlapalli, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico, 2018.

The indigenous visions of the conquest and the creation of new identities

Arcoíris, 2018

Egg tempera on wall with natural dyes

destroyed

Our origin as Mexicans begins with the conquest, when a new reality was created product of the violent and creative encounter between the Mesoamerican indigenous peoples and the Spaniards. However, we have little access to the indigenous views of this period, thus we do not really know our history entirely.

One of the most vigorous characteristics of the years after the European invasion of Mesoamerica was the creative impulse of the indigenous peoples, worthy of being considered an example in the history of mankind. As they saw the profound transformation brought by the arrival of the Europeans and suffering the loss of their history with the burning of their painted books, the inhabitants of small centers and large cities committed to repaint and rewrite their history. In the archives of different institutions, thousands of documents give testimony of the great indigenous creative enterprise from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

 

The indigenous documents of the conquest presented here, chronicle the events in coded paintings, and at the same time narrate and interpret them, endowing the images with multiple meanings. The images correspond to two visions: that of the allied peoples of the Mexica, who lost the war, and that of the allies to the Spaniards represented by the Tlaxcalans, who believed they were on the side of the victors, to subsequently lose their privileges promised by their European allies.

Documents that are the product of the new cultural identity of the indigenous elites during the viceregal period are also presented here. Traditional forms of representation changed through the appropriation of European artistic symbols and conventions. The changes in the pictorial style should be understood as part of the indigenous artistic and political strategy, a fact that emphasizes the importance of the native painters/writers, tlacuiloque (plural of tlacuilo), during this period.

Installation view In Tlilli in Tlapalli, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico, 2018.

The new earth

The Archivo General de la Nación (General Archive of the Nation) keeps colonial documents in which, since the 1530s, indigenous peoples have filed legal claims before the colonial authorities about the property of the land. Among the documents, maps, and painted documents are included to demonstrate the veracity of the matter being litigated. However, these map-paintings represent much more than a proof or a testimony of legitimacy.

Indigenous peoples since ancient times consider themselves to have emerged from the sacred caves and mountains that represent the first land as a living being that sacrifices itself to sustain the life of plants, animals, and humanity. This creation story is symbolized in the Nahua concept of altepetl, “mountain-water.” Thus, the altepeme (plural of altepetl) were the indigenous territories associated with a people, a lineage, and a history.  The altepetl played a preponderant role in the indigenous social and political organization prior to the conquest and as we can see in the map-paintings presented here, the altepetl continued to be the axis of the local life of the different indigenous groups in the vast territory of the present Mexico. By painting their altepeme on the maps, the artists actually painted the territory (the sacred space) that sustained them, and at the same time, they painted their history (time) and their ancestral ties with such territory.

The Europeans did not understand that the altepeme were not cities or towns, but territories. The rural and the urban in Mesoamerica were always linked, while in the Spanish vision were separated. That is why the map-paintings that we see here served as a form of negotiation between the people of the altepetl and the colonial authorities as well as a creative way to repaint the world, to make it exist again.

Map of Zolipa, Misantla Veracruz

Anonymous artist, glosses by the magistrate Pedro Pérez de Zamora, 1573

European paper, 33.2 x 45.1 cm

Archivo General de la Nación, Maps, Plans and Illustrations collection.

Installation view In Tlilli in Tlapalli, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico, 2018.

Installation view In Tlilli in Tlapalli, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico, 2018.

Map of Tezontepec, Hidalgo. Author unknown, 1571, Amate paper, 44.5 x 40.7 cm

Archivo General de la Nación, Maps, Plans and Illustrations collection, No. 1240. Belongs to Lands, vol. 1810, file 13, f. 10

Muerte de Moctezuma y de Itzquauhtzin, 2018

Egg tempera on wall with natural dyes

destroyed

Detail: Muerte de Moctezuma y de Itzquauhtzin, 2018

Egg tempera on wall with natural dyes

Installation view In Tlilli in Tlapalli, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico, 2018.

Detail: Materia de los días, 2018

110 discos de scagliola

Materia de los días & Perfecto Luna

The sculptures distributed in the Museum’s Lobby in the form of truncated cylinders follow the shape of the color samples from the Florentine Codex, and refer to the incidence of light in a spherical body, as occurs with the phases of the moon.

The colors used in the Florentine Codex were recreated in the laboratory from the original recipes and from the chemical analysis of the pigments. The color samples were painted in small circles of paper with different combinations for testing, until the palette was completed, including both European and pre-Columbian pigments and dyes. The sculptures are made in scagliola, a technique developed in seventeenth-century Italy to resemble marbles and other minerals with a compound of gypsum, pigments, and glue. This technique allows coating surfaces to recreate architectural elements.

The Lobby walls are covered with 260 circles of scagliola, completing a year in the account of the Tonalpohualli, the pre-Columbian ritual calendar constituted by twenty signs and thirteen numerals. Each day is a combination of a sign and a number that runs consecutively until the 260-day count is met. Each color corresponds to a region of the cosmos and is a bearer of mantic energies that move time and govern life on earth.

Installation view In Tlilli in Tlapalli, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico, 2018.

Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico, 2018

Perfecto Luna, 2018

Scagliola, mixed technique

Perfecto Luna, 2018

Scagliola, mixed technique

Perfecto Luna, 2018

Scagliola, mixed technique

Detail: Perfecto Luna, 2018

Scagliola, mixed technique

Perfecto Luna, 2018

Scagliola, mixed technique

Installation view Perfecto Luna, 2018

Scagliola, mixed technique

Materia de los días, 2018

110 scagliola discs

Detail: Materia de los días, 2018

110 scagliola discs

Making of Materia de los días, 110 scagliola discs

Making of Materia de los días, 110 scagliola discs

Detail: Jardin de plantas y minerales, 2018

Dye plants and mineral garden

Collaboration with Tatiana Falcón

Dye plants and minerals garden

There are no historical records of a garden combining all the dye plants like the one presented here. A collection of trees from different geographical regions, wild plants of the rainforest, shrubs, lichens, and insects, all source of the most important colors used to make pigments and dyes named by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún in the Florentine Codex also known as the General History of the Things of New Spain. The plants have been arranged according to the color they produce following the orientation of the Four Directions of the Universe depicted in the first page of the Codex Fejérváry-Mayer, which represents a Tonalpohualli or count of the days, a ritual calendar of 260 days formed by the combination of twenty names of days (veintenas) and thirteen numbers of days (trecenas).

The count of the days marked in the Codex Fejérváry-Mayer begins in the east, place of the sun, corresponding to the color red; represented first by the cochineal (Dactylopius coccus), an insect that lives in different types of cacti (Opuntia spp.) and whose females are responsible for producing the famous carmine pigment. There are also four young Mexican logwood trees (Haematoxylon brasiletto), native to the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and whose red core is used to provide dark shades of red. An achiote shrub (Bixa orellana) complements the ensemble; it produces a “light red” according to the Nahua colorists –or dark orange– according to our current notion. The next point of the time account corresponds to the north, left of the east, its colors are black and yellow; The main tree of this section is the mesquite of the genus Prosopis, from the arid regions of Mesoamerica. It is used to produce a black color and its rubber serves as a binding agent for painting. At its sides, there are different plants from which yellows are extracted: three types of cempoalxóchitl (Tagetes spp.), A parasite plant called zacatlaxcalli in Nahuatl (Cuscuta spp.), and quappachtl (Usnea spp.), as well as lichens from the mesophilic forests of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

The west is the place of white, represented here with two different species of amate (strangler fig): the prieto (dark) and the white traditionally used in papermaking. The supports of the pre-Hispanic codices were usually made from amate paper or deerskin. The cycle ends at the south, whose color is blue-green. Three plants used to make different shades of blue have been gathered: the xiquilite or indigo (Indigofera suffruticosa), the matlalli (Commelina coelestis) and the muitle (Justicia spicigera). From the first one, a dark blue dye is extracted from which a turquoise blue known as Mayan blue was manufactured. A navy blue tone is extracted from the petals of the flowers of the matlalli, and from the muitle, a grayish blue with violet and purple tones can be obtained.

Jardin de plantas y minerales, 2018

Dye plants and mineral garden

Collaboration with Tatiana Falcón

Diagram of Jardin de plantas y minerales, 2018

Jardin de plantas y minerales, 2018

Dye plants and mineral garden

Collaboration with Tatiana Falcón

Detail: Jardin de plantas y minerales, 2018

Dye plants and mineral garden

Collaboration with Tatiana Falcón

Detail: Jardin de plantas y minerales, 2018

Dye plants and mineral garden

Collaboration with Tatiana Falcón

Detail: Jardin de plantas y minerales, 2018

Dye plants and mineral garden

Collaboration with Tatiana Falcón

Detail: Jardin de plantas y minerales, 2018

Dye plants and mineral garden

Collaboration with Tatiana Falcón

 

Point

kurimanzutto, New York

March 5 – April 6, 2019

Installation view Point, 2018

kurimanzutto, New York, US

Detail: The In, 2018

Rope, plaster, cork and concrete tiles

There are two sides to the beginning, 2018

3 colored concrete tiles, watercolor and ink

And the in is between the two, 2018

3 colored concrete tiles, watercolor and ink

Installation view Point, 2018

kurimanzutto, New York, US

That makes three perspective considerations, 2018

Concrete tiles, watercolor and ink

Detail: That makes three perspective considerations, 2018

Concrete tiles, watercolor and ink

Xipe Turquoise, 2018

watercolor and ink on paper

Petlacoatl III, 2018

watercolor and ink on paper

Installation view Point, 2018

kurimanzutto, New York, US

Installation view Point, 2018

kurimanzutto, New York, US

Xipe Totec, Museum für Völkerkunde, Basel I, 2018

watercolor and ink on paper

Xipe Totec, Museum für Völkerkunde, Basel III, 2018

watercolor and ink on paper

Petlacoatl I, 2018

watercolor and ink on paper

Them inside the skin

Mendes Wood DMD, Brussels, Belgium

October 13 – December 12, 2017

They arrived and the man appeared. He was a deer. He came closer and they cut up his flesh. They gathered wasps, hornets and bees and stuffed them inside the skin, [they left the skin there] and went home. When they gave the meat to their mother she said: “Have you gone crazy?” You have killed your father […] She left and went to the mountain […] she called and called as she stood at the foot of the mountain. No one answered. She found the stuffed skin with insects, and said to it: What’s the matter with you? Why don’t you say something? But how could he speak any more being only a skin. She took her fist and stuck the ear, and the bees, hornets and wasps broke out of the skin and stung her, [when she arrived home] her children said: “we prepared the steam bath for you to recover.” They closed the door and did not permit her to leave. She never came out but went up and turned into the spirit of the steam bath. The children left and went far away. They found a snake. They took out their eyes and they were very pretty, then they made a rope and climbed up to the sky. One of them became an eye and a half of the snake, and the other a half of the snake’s eye.

To measure – whether distance or time – is to develop a material engagement with the world that is at once practical and conceptual. The tonalpohualli is a cosmological technology for the count of time. Apart from measuring time, it is a divinatory system entangling spatial coordinates, agriculture, and ritual sacrifices. The gods, events and other elements it carried as augural messages, defined the way people conducted their affairs and even what kind of people they were likely to become.

The tonalpohualli is a calendar of 260 days, composed of 20-day signs and 13 numbers. Each day is a combination of a day sign and a number, and they run concurrently until all the combinations are exhausted (20x13=260). The day 1 crocodile is always followed by 2 Wind, 3 House, 4 lizard, and so on, until the shorter 13 number cycle ends with 13 Reed, after which it continues with 1 Jaguar, 2 Eagle and so forth. The calendar was depicted in visual manuscripts named tonalamatl, from tonal (day) and amatl (paper). In these books the days were visually displayed in different permutations according to the multiple cycles of the calendar. The books also contained astronomical and medical knowledge, insights into prophecies and protocols for rituals. The books were crafted of either deer skin or paper, mostly organized as a screen fold. Paper was an important material in the indigenous cosmogony, widely used not just for manuscripts, but also for ritual objects such as body ornaments, clothes, and offerings.

The connection between the body and the environment is present in the calendar, for instance, the signs of the days and the body parts maintained a correspondence. The sap of the amate tree used to make paper was blood, the smoke of fire was human breath, and the tree bark was human skin. In the calendar, the deity Xipe Totec was often depicted as a man wearing the flayed skin of another on top of his own. The ceremony consisted on the sacrifice of the victim, and the transfiguration of another person through wearing the skin of the sacrificed. 

The Nahua concept of ixiptla derives from the particle xip, meaning skin, coverage or shell. A natural outer layer of tissue that covers the body of a person or animal, the skin can be separated from the body to produce garments, containers for holding liquids or parchment as a writing surface.

Ixiptla has been understood as image, delegate, character, and representative. Ixiptla could be a container, but also could be the actualization of power infused into an object or person. In Nahua culture, it took the form of a statue, a vision, or a victim who turned into a god destined to be sacrificed. Without having to visually appear the same, multiple ixiptlas of the same god could exist simultaneously.  The skin of the deer and the paper act both as support and ritual signifiers. The book of days departs from a skin and becomes a body. The page 20 of the Borgia codex shows a deer with the 20-day signs assigned to different parts of its body. A skin deer-body-calendar. The codice Tudela has a similar image of an extended deerskin with the day signs inscribed in different parts of its body. The association between man and deer appear in several narrations, including the story related at the beginning of this text.

The deer is the sacrifice offering per excellence, and also a creature that can transmute in something else. Again, it is a game of substitutions and transmutations that depart from the skin and its materiality. In the indigenous cosmogony, the material gives shape, identity, materializes, but also substitutes and personifies, not only by visual analogies but also by subtle material relations. Skin and paper seem to share the same nature, as the wrapping or envelope of plants, humans and animals. These are the material and symbolic supports of the tonamalatl calendar known until today. The body of works in this exhibition share the same skin, a skin for thought. It is not a contained skin, but a skin that can be shared, acting as an extended tissue between different bodies.

First page of The Codex Fejervary-Mayer, unknown author, 15th century

Tonalamatl II, 2017

Watercolor on paper

Them inside the skin, 2017

watercolour and ink on paper

Them inside the skin, 2017

watercolour and ink on paper

Them inside the skin, 2017

watercolour and ink on paper

Them inside the skin, 2017

watercolour and ink on paper

Installation view Them inside the skin

Mendes Wood DM, Brussels, Belgium, 2017

Xipe Tetrahedron III, 2017

Plaster and hemp rope

Tonalpohualli (green, yellow, red, blue) Brussels, 2017

Group of 20 powder coated aluminium stripes, wood joints

Detail: Tonalpohualli (green, yellow, red, blue) Brussels, 2017

Group of 20 powder coated aluminium stripes, wood joints

Tonalpohualli Blue, 2017

Powder coated aluminium, wood joints, bronze

Tonalpohualli Petate, 2017

Powder coated aluminium, wood joints, bronze

Detail: Tonalpohualli Petate, 2017

Three yellow aluminum stripes, wood joints, bronze

Icosahedron, 2017

Pigmented plaster, hemp rope and coloured concrete tiles with relief

Xipe Octahedron, 2017

Pigmented plaster, hemp rope, concrete tiles with relief

Petate, Xipe, Turquesa, Xipe, Petate, 2017

Colored concrete tiles with relief

das Haut-Ich

Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin

April 28 – July 28, 2018

Installation view Das Haut-Ich

Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin, 2018

Installation view Das Haut-Ich

Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin, Germany, 2018

Tecpatl I, 2018

Watercolor on concrete tile

Tecpatl III, 2018

Watercolor on concrete tiles, 3-parts

Tecpatl II, 2018

Watercolor on concrete tiles

Petate, Petate, Turquesa, Icosahedron, 2018

3 colored concrete tiles, pigmented plaster, hemp rope and cork

Crocodile skin book of the days, 2018

Watercolour and ink on paper

Devouring time, 2018

Watercolour and ink on paper

Scorpion Time II, 2018

Watercolour and ink on paper

Scorpion Time, 2018

Watercolour and ink on paper

Petlacoatl

Logan Center Exhibitions, The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts University of Chicago

November 16 - January 13, 2019

Installation view Pentlacoatl

Reva and David Logan center for the Arts at the University of Chicago

Chicago, United States, 2018.

Photo: Robert Chase Heishman

Installation view Pentlacoatl

Reva and David Logan center for the Arts at the University of Chicago

Chicago, United States, 2018.

Photo: Robert Chase Heishman