Benjamin Péret / Approach to Chichen Itza /// Ernesto Muñiz / Collage

Revolucionarios y Guadalupanos 1 m x 70 cm

 Ernesto Muñiz – Revolucionarios y Guadalupanos (1 m x 70 cm) 

 

Approach to Chichen Itza

The fine American-style highway assumes, abruptly, its traditional guise of a rutted, rocky track and insinuates itself, caterpillar across sheepskin, through the scrub, whence here and there rise stiffly tall pennants of charcoal smoke, upright and precarious as the lives of the Indians who set them rising. Drunk on the eternally young wine of the greenness all around, the antiquated bus zigzags, slips, slides and leaps clumsily from rock to rock like an old goat, before falling back, sack discarded, into a mud puddle, which sprays its ragged fan onto the lower branches of the trees, sullying them until the midday monsoon takes care of their daily wash. The passengers, up to this point wedged in among the promiscuousness of a Noah’s arc of turkeys, frenzied pigs and blocks of ice slowly dissolving at the feet of the Indians in their immaculate rags, through which holes let show a skin of scorched soil (as snow melting uncovers packed earth); the passengers start skipping around like spooked deer.

The setting changes in an instant. The agave plantations belonged to the first act, which concluded at the first rest stop. Ahead, a mule trail all but bereft of mules. At the outset butterflies came out to meet us and now assail us from all sides. Those butterflies that, at Teotihuacan, symbolized the last breath of a life sliding into death, seem to rise up to block our way into the defunct world the bus is soon to enter. Each puddle of mud is covered as if by a palpitating cape that disintegrates before us, to the point that the track at times seems strewn with canary feathers and white flowers, both blood-spotted. At the protesting vehicle’s passage, the mud, milk soup, boils over, exploding butterflies on all sides in vehement protest. The driver is haloed – glass case saint – hooded – penitent of the sun – and wrapped – misplaced Bedouin. The passengers, of whom there are fewer and fewer, are beset all around by clouds of flying arrows, continual flux, an aerial torrent that rises before the motor moaning like Mexico’s beggars and slides over the bus become submarine in a sea of butterflies which, the turmoil subsided, settle, far behind us, motionless on their beloved mud, lazy cats purring in the sun.

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 Ernesto Muñiz – Untitled

 

In the distance a few very small birds flee, missiles out of the undergrowth, as the bus comes on clanking like a pan thrown down a stone staircase.

At the entrance to a Mayan hut, mushroom of the dew with doorstep freshly washed that seems to have survived dozens of centuries to affirm that life goes on despite man’s unremitting efforts to delimit and destroy it, a small boy with a face of weathered bookleather is weeping, fists pressed to his eyes to block out the passing of the screeching bus. And his sister, distant as a sovereign from a past age, watches us bump and shudder by and salutes, wistfully perhaps, with a single gesture of her haughty wrist.

At the foot of the slope a grey thumb emerges from the green dais and grows by virtue of a cinematic acceleration as the bus huffs and puffs up the slope until, abruptly, it seems about to flatten itself against the great pyramid of Chichen Itza, ‘the Castle’ as the Spanish conquerors named it when they discovered it four centuries ago, already in ruins and half-buried in the tropical vegetation. More than three hundred years had passed since the Itza were driven out by their rivals the Mayapan!
Dissection of imagination 88 x 48 cm.

 Ernesto Muñiz – Dissection of Imagination (88 x 48 cm)

 

On an immense esplanade bordered by the road that, further on, loses itself among the last monuments, still mummified by creepers, and that closes a circular arc of forest, ‘the Castle’ towers – gigantic phantasm, matt grey as the northern sky in Winter – over the frozen herd of temples, restored to the sun to whose glory they were built: the Warriors, the Jaguars, the Great Ball court, the Thousand Columns, the ‘Market’, etc., each wearing a heavy armour of silence. Without really having changed, the voice, at Chichen Itza, nevertheless takes on a tone we are not familiar with, as when a blonde woman dyes her hair brunette. As if the voice of the modern cities had been obliged, upon arriving at the esplanade of this Mayan polis, to veil itself in a sort of respectful fervour, aware that only one nakedness is tolerated in this place, that of the stones. And that sun in a sky louring with the oncoming storm extinguishes even the songs of the birds and invites one to penetrate the oppressive heart of ‘the Castle’. There, lies, buried by the builders of this edifice, dissatisfied with the work of their forebears, an older pyramid, smaller and so well preserved from ruin by its tomb that the temple which crowns it has kept almost intact its sumptuous lining of polychrome stucco, as well as the bloody, jade-flecked jaguar whose green eyes make the visitor’s heart skip a beat.

(Translated by John Z. Komurki)

Adam and Eve (Exposed) 87.5 x 75.5

 Ernesto Muñiz – Adam and Eve (exposed) (87.5 x 75.5 cm)