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Belkis Ayón

Untitled [Sikan, Nasako, and the Holy Spirit]

This play is a reflection on the (im)possibility of accepting diversity and the other. The fragmented body of the neoplasm—the fruit of unstable conditions—overcomes barriers, loves and denies itself and others, wanders around, forgetting its profession. It frequently and with pleasure divides, goes through dangerous palpation, questions the possibility of contact with the experience of the other. Poorly brought up but very successful, it invites us to a trans-species transition.

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Belkis Ayón ignored the hegemonic discourse of identity in order to reveal their exclusionary and utilitarian nature. Her ability to enter into a mythological and ritual universe that was strange to her, as a neophyte and as a woman, gave her an understanding of a tacit element: All ritual is a mise-en scène of its mythical basis, and thus its symbolic unfolding or display. Belkis provokes and manipulates the myth, exposing the hidden elements that affect us as a people and a nation.

The artist reveals the social origins of the sect, associated with the case of the house-canoe, the capture of the maiden Sikán by the sacred Voice of Tanze the fish, and the sacrificial death of Sikán, which suggest the replacement of a primitive matriarchal society by a patriarchal slave society. She does this by raising questions about "desire," "possession," and "the power of the secret" from a feminine perspective with overtones of race and class. Her critical interpretations about the Abakuá secret society do not denigrate the recognition of their civic virtue as a fraternal society.

In the development of her work, art follows myth. Just as the myth focuses on the incident involving the fish Tanze and Sikán, Belkis makes it a pretext for raising questions without answers that take us back again to sacrifice, reincarnation, and transcendence, and to the analysis of the cycles of transgressor-victim, and absence-presence. She creates a human space of exceptionality when, at a certain moment, her work becomes increasingly personal, moving away from the specifics of the traditional mythical narrative. Her proximity to other Cuban artists embracing religious themes is mediated by the pagan idea, the search for and return of the soul of Sikán, i.e., of power and consciousness of one's self. Only after losing Belkis were we able to find the humanity of Sikán. What is revealed to us is that which was hidden. In this trajectory, sacrifice comes to play a role, symbolic or real, in a return to intimacy. -Dannys Montes de Oca Moreda

Curated by Alejandro De La Fuente

When

2010

About The Artist

Belkis Ayón studied printmaking at the Instituto Superior de Arte. Her work focuses on the feminine character of Sikán and the origin myth of the Abakuá, an Afro-Cuban men’s secret society. In her article “Transcendent Belkis Ayón,” Dannys Montes de Oca Moreda describes this origin myth and its implications in Ayón’s art: “The artist reveals the social origins of the sect, associated with the caste of the house canoe, the capture of the maiden Sikán by the sacred Voice of Tanze the fish, and the sacrificial death of Sikán, which suggests the replacement of a primitive matriarchal society by a patriarchal slave society. She does this by raising questions about ‘desire,’ ‘possession,’ and ‘the power of the secret’ from a feminine perspective with overtones of race and class.”

Belkis Ayón ignored the hegemonic discourse of identity in order to reveal their exclusionary and utilitarian nature. Her ability to enter into a mythological and ritual universe that was strange to her, as a neophyte and as a woman, gave her an understanding of a tacit element: All ritual is a mise-en scène of its mythical basis, and thus its symbolic unfolding or display. Belkis provokes and manipulates the myth, exposing the hidden elements that affect us as a people and a nation.

The artist reveals the social origins of the sect, associated with the case of the house-canoe, the capture of the maiden Sikán by the sacred Voice of Tanze the fish, and the sacrificial death of Sikán, which suggest the replacement of a primitive matriarchal society by a patriarchal slave society. She does this by raising questions about "desire," "possession," and "the power of the secret" from a feminine perspective with overtones of race and class. Her critical interpretations about the Abakuá secret society do not denigrate the recognition of their civic virtue as a fraternal society.

In the development of her work, art follows myth. Just as the myth focuses on the incident involving the fish Tanze and Sikán, Belkis makes it a pretext for raising questions without answers that take us back again to sacrifice, reincarnation, and transcendence, and to the analysis of the cycles of transgressor-victim, and absence-presence. She creates a human space of exceptionality when, at a certain moment, her work becomes increasingly personal, moving away from the specifics of the traditional mythical narrative. Her proximity to other Cuban artists embracing religious themes is mediated by the pagan idea, the search for and return of the soul of Sikán, i.e., of power and consciousness of one's self. Only after losing Belkis were we able to find the humanity of Sikán. What is revealed to us is that which was hidden. In this trajectory, sacrifice comes to play a role, symbolic or real, in a return to intimacy. -Dannys Montes de Oca Moreda

Curated by Alejandro De La Fuente

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