Composed of a diverse series of installations, The Blessings of the Mystery materializes Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas’s research into the connections and tensions between the cultural, scientific, economic, and socio-political forces that shape landscapes in the United States from Santa Cruz to West Texas.
The exhibition, which has previously been shown in various iterations at Ballroom Marfa, the University of Texas at Austin, the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, centers on The Teachings of the Hands. The film combines observational and experimental documentary with oral histories, reenactments, and archival footage to narrate a complex history of colonization, migration, and ecological precarity, Told from the perspective of Juan Mancias, Chairman of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, scenes from the present day are woven together with those from 4,000 years in the past to investigate the transformation of Somi Se’k* by way of industry, infrastructure, and private property.
Immersive installations of surveying flags and tools, series of drawings and collages, and a collection of original watercolors from the 1930s by artists and amateur archaeologists Forrest and Lula Kirkland that depict the ancient rock art of the Lower Pecos, expand on concepts in The Teachings of the Hands. The watercolors, rarely seen plein air paintings, are on loan from the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas, and document the original forms and vibrant colors of murals that were still visible in the 1930s before flooding, erosion, and human interaction damaged or destroyed them. Together, the rich assortments of artwork explore the myriad relationships between environmental justice, encounters between history and memory, and Indigenous rights and cosmologies.
*Somi Se’k means the Land of the Sun and is the way the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe refers to the land known as Texas.
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