This 5th issue of the anthropology journal created by Mariana Castillo Deball explains and develops the issues at stake in the artist's recent research.
The word amarantus, which gives name to this publication, comes from the Greek aμάρανθος, and describes a flower that never wilts. This plant is still used to prepare ixiptlahuan, which are anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures that are ritually consumed by some indigenous peoples in Mexico. The amaranth flower represents the persistence of the "uncomfortable objects" that Castillo Deball makes visible in her historical itineraries and approximations, and that keep speaking to us in the present.
Ever since her early works, the artist has explored how chance—a product of the passing of time, erosion, fragmentation, and human intervention, among other factors—determines, to a large extent, the way we learn about the world and the narratives we create. This interest has led her to investigate the history of certain artifacts and their vicissitudes, reproductions, appropriations, and disappearances. Her formal strategies tend to reflect an inclination toward methodologies used by archaeologists to "trap" their findings. The resulting objects, or substitute images, conceptually approach the ancient Nahua notion of ixiptla, which can be interpreted as representation, image, and substitute, but also as skin. This concept is indispensable for approaching many of Castillo Deball's projects from the past decade.
This publication features some of the artist's long-term collaborators and interlocutors, including: Tatiana Falcón, with whom she made The Painter's Garden;the organization Cooperación Comunitaria for The Double Life of the Azoyú Codex; Diana Magaloni around the term ixiptla and In Tilli in Tlapalli; Hubert Matiúwàa, through poems from his book Skin People; Barbara Mundy on cartography and the artist's floor pieces; Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye on Alfred Maudslay; and Catalina Lozano about the history of women who have practiced archaeology in Mexico. The publication also includes the essay A Dystopic Mesoamerica by Yásnaya Elena and an excerpt of Emiliano Monge's novel Weaving Darkness.
Published by Bom Dia Boa Tarde Boa Noite, Ixiptla is a journal about trajectories of anthropology, initiated by the artist Mariana Castillo Deball. Published in the context of exhibitions or art events, Ixiptla takes the form of a highly visual magazine with substantial essays by anthropologists, archaeologists, artists, and writers.
The Nahua ixiptla concept has been translated as image, delegate, substitute or representative. Ixiptla could be a statue, a vision or the victim that becomes the god for human sacrifice. The various ixiptla of the same god could occur simultaneously. Ixiptla derive from the particle xip: skin, cover, shell; is the container, the recognizable presence, the update of a force embedded in an object: a being there, removing the distinction between essence and matter, original and copy.