Expoliada II 2016
dyed and color-fast thread with wood mount
Courtesy of Cecilia Brunson Projects
The work of Sandra Monterroso draws on the material thought forms of her Q’eqchi community’s Maya culture, Q’eqchi being one of over 20 Maya groups in Guatemala. The artist employs women’s artisanal practices as metaphoric expressions of the interweaving of communication and loss. Expoliada II expresses Monterroso’s ongoing interest in textile as a technology of spiritual transmission. Structured across three rows of threads, the work references the Mayan cosmology and in particular the associations of the colour yellow, representative of the South cardinal point, the Sun at its zenith, and the earth. Each row progressively loses some of its brilliant colour. The material symbolism of the sculpture is revealed by the work’s title, which translates as ‘plundered’, referencing the history of subjugation and dispossession to which Maya communities have been subjected throughout the country’s history and in particular during the Guatemalan genocide (1960-1996).
For me it is important to blur the line between what we know as ‘artisanal’ and ‘artistic’, but without confusing or totalising the same idea. That is to say that much craft work has a rigour in the execution of its practice and a knowledge in itself that is an art. Especially objects or practices that are carried out from generation to generation, keeping an ancestral and local millenary knowledge, such as the art of textile. So to learn this knowledge for me has been to learn a millenary artistic practice, dyeing has a great history in our territory. Bringing it into the space of contemporary art allows me to open up these debates, to question these other ways of making and perceiving aesthetics. Learning these techniques also means putting myself in their place, speaking from a place of enunciation that I somehow share. The works dyed with thread are inspired by this ancestral practice, the same technical process of dyeing is carried out again, it is re-signified in the space of contemporary art.