Beneath the Second Skin. Mayan Textiles and Bodies in the Art of Manuel Tzoc Bucup and Sandra Monterroso

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Starting – and in conversation – with two contemporary artists who collect, modify, and display ‘traditionally’ woven textiles while dealing with their female, Mayan heritages, this article approaches pre-hispanic body concepts accessed through everyday experiences and met by (neo-)colonial practices in today’s Guatemala. For the performance Piel (2016), Manuel Tzoc’s full-body suit acts out a central concept in so-called Mayan hermeneutics: that of textile as the body’s second skin. In Columna Vertebral (2012-2017), Sandra Monterroso rolls up various textiles together to form a column. Resembling pre-hispanic stelae, the installation preserves saberes (knowledges/wisdom) impossible to ‘decipher’ fully. Moving from the body’s surface (Piel: skin) to the idea of its interiority (Columna Vertebral: spinal column), I offer a situated understanding of the material, fleshly relation between bodies, subjects and textiles, that has the potential of knowledge and memory transmission, and that cannot be understood solely in representational or semiotic terms, for instance through language.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMiradas. Zeitschrift für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte der Amerikas und der iberischen Halbinsel
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)104-125
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 29.03.2022

    Research areas

  • Cultural studies - Mayan hermeneutics, Mayan textiles, second skin, body's interiority, decipherability