The Blessings of the Mystery at Ballroom Marfa
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May 26–September 4, 2022
Opening celebration: June 4, 5–7pm
For the exhibition The Blessings of the Mystery artists Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas present a newly commissioned film and series of installations rooted in West Texas. The project crystallizes the artists’ research into the connections and tensions between the cultural, scientific, industrial, and sociopolitical forces across locations like the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, the Amistad Dam on the Rio Grande, and the Permian Basin oil fields.
The exhibition centers around The Teachings of the Hands, a single-channel film that depicts the region’s complex histories of colonization, migration, and ecological precarity from the perspective of Juan Mancias, Chairman of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. The video-installation combines observational and experimental documentary with oral histories, reenactments, and archival footage. Weaving together scenes from the present day to 4,000 years in the past, on land where both Indigenous and settler knowledge has been historically produced, The Teachings of the Hands highlights the environmental memories and cosmologies that coexist within Somi Se’k*.
The film is complemented by immersive installations of surveying flags and tools; several series of drawings and collages; and a collection of watercolors from the 1930s by artists and amateur archaeologists Forrest and Lula Kirkland that depicts ancient rock art of the Lower Pecos. On loan from the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas, these rarely seen plein air paintings document the original forms and vibrant colors of murals that were still visible in the 30s, before flooding, erosion, and human interaction damaged or destroyed them.
The Blessings of the Mystery emerges from Caycedo and de Rozas’s multidisciplinary practices, which are guided by environmental justice, encounters between history and memory, and Indigenous rights and cosmologies. For this exhibition and in its previous iterations across the state, Caycedo and de Rozas investigate the transformation of Somi Se’k* by way of industry, infrastructure, and private property.
*Somi Se’k means the Land of the Sun and is the way the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe refers to the land known as Texas.
The exhibition is organized by Laura Copelin, former Director & Curator, Ballroom Marfa.
Lead support for The Blessings of the Mystery is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and VIA Art Fund. Major support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation; and Kevin Sherman. Generous support is provided by The City of Marfa and the Texas Commission on the Arts. Exhibitions at Ballroom are supported by The Brown Foundation, Inc.; Fairfax Dorn & Marc Glimcher; Virginia Lebermann & Family; Lebermann Foundation; Ballroom Marfa’s Board of Trustees, International Surf Club, and Ballroom members.
108 East San Antonio Street
Marfa, TX 79843