26 April 2021

Tracing the History of Sacred Land in Central Mexico 

26 April 2021 - Written by PhMuseum

Deploying a scientific approach to his imagery, French artist Julien Lombardi crafts visual materials that investigate the legacy of the Wirikuta desert valley and offer a dialogue between the imaginations and sensibilities that shape this hallowed territory.

The Land Where the Sun was Born refers to the fragile existence of sacred land in a global world.

Nestled in a desert valley in central Mexico, Wirikuta is for the Wixárikas Indians the land of founding myths and manifold divinities. They come every year on a pilgrimage to honour the birth of the sun and fire. From the Conquista to the industrial era, these lands have been open to new communities that have modified their nature but not their spiritual meaning. Now, a new cycle of threats is affecting this territory. All kinds of extractivist are trying to take over the land with the complicity of the Mexican government.

This visual art project that I have been leading for three years observes how different conceptions of the world fit into this ground. I collect images within the geographical limits of this sacred land, inspired by scientific protocols. I record disparate phenomena with a portable scanner, photographic traps, and video loops. The collected archives and my shots then hybridise into a fabulation that documents the current situation by looking back to the past and the representations that survive us. From the Indian cosmogony to the Christian faith, then to the plundering of natural resources, I experience dialogues between the imaginations and sensibilities that shape this sacred land on a daily basis.

In a recent interview, the anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro said that “it could be useful to look at what Indians know how to do: live in a world that has been stolen from them,” implying, of course, that we may suffer the same fate.

Words and Pictures by Julien Lombardi.


Julien Lombardi apprehends photography in many different forms, whether he is the author or not, he draws freely on his anthropological background to carry out investigations whose aims are more sensitive than scientific. His photographic works are neither testimonies nor proofs, but rather open fictions that question past, present and possible futures. Find him on PHmuseum and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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