2013 - Ongoing
It is well known that places are warehouses for memories and past events, which help us to understand that our time evokes just one stratum of an immense and unforeseeable history.
The history of Mexico is a chronicle of death, a legacy of cruel gods, but even crueler men.
As part of an investigation project in Teotihuacan, I track the trails on deceases that occurred in the last years, in the mythical city of gods; a land related, since the beginning, to blood consecration as a vital cycle of existence, where the deaths still show themselves. It is as if today's individuals had to pay a fee, asked by gods, in order to continue with the existence of this holy city in the present. Moments of violence, death and sacrifice are kept within this holy space, where the act of taking away life or dying, so common in Mexico's History, is transcended into a sort of cosmic cycle, as metaphor of the universe' renovation.
Up to now, Teotihuacan's History remains an enigma. For the Mexicas, it was a holy place where the gods, through auto sacrifice, created the Sun, the Moon and the inhabitants (Chimalpopoca Codex). By means of the rebuilding of its vestiges and investigations made by Leopoldo Batres (1906), Manuel Gamio (1917), or Saburo Sugiyama (2004), it was discovered that execution of human sacrifice in Teotihuacan, was, apparently, an offering to the monumental constructions of the city, that is to say, to the work of construction. The beheading, dismember and the infanticide, were executed at the beginning of the constructions of new temples, altars and communal buildings. Several rituals of human sacrifice were registered through mural paintings in Teotihuacan, which points out the presence and importance they had for the inhabitants of this city. For example, in the Pyramid of the Moon, there were found various burials related to human sacrifice. A man seated, with his hands bundled on his back, with two felines, a canine, a snake, and birds of prey, stands out. Meanwhile, in the Pyramid of the Sun, child burials dedicated to the monument, were found in each of the corners of the terraced body. The human offering –beheading, heart removal and dismember of bodies– to gods and to the monuments in the city is meaningful. After an active life during more than 400 years, the city was destroyed and this event is still subjected to different hypothesis. However, once the city was razed to the ground, it is said that it was used by other human settlements, where, once again, violence and the death was present in the said vestiges. Sugiyama states that there is still a lot to investigate and to learn in Teotihuacan, but as a conclusion he points out that "Victims –from different ages and sex, and belonging to different social classes and ideological categories–, were selected, sacrificed and buried by the leaders, based on the meaning and the functions of the monuments, as we can see in recent studies".
Through my investigations in the city, I've found the death of individuals, from children, men and women both in the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, and the Avenue of the Death, including other spaces within the city. Almost as a forensic photographer, I research and track the area where the death took place; once I've found it, I register the area. Falls, cardiac arrests, suicide, heart attacks and inexplicable deaths, incarnate the cycle of constant renovation in which the city finds itself through its more than two millenniums of existence.
Paradoxically, as the city emerges from between the silence of the stones, and the more it is its museum-structure a center of knowledge and resurgence of the past, its architecture becomes a threatening rick area, that collects the dissatisfied blood thirst of the Gods of the Past.
Humberto Ríos Rodríguez. 2013
*Work Produced with a Beca Jóvenes Creadores. FOCAEM.
Humberto Ríos Rodríguez (Mexico City, 1983). Degree in Visual Arts by the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, Master in Visual Arts with honorary mention in the National Autonomous University of Mexico with a project made in the National Museum of Art, under the mentorship of Laura González Flores, PhD, member of the IIE-UNAM.
He has been awarded with the adquisition prize of the XXXI Encuentro Nacional de Arte Joven INBA-ICA (2011), Honorary Mention in the II International Artists´ Book Fair of the Centro de la Imagen (2011), Honorary Mention in the XXX Encuentro Nacional de Arte Joven (2010), the Young Creator´s Grant (FONCA) two consecutive years 2009-2010 and 2011-2012, the Programa Jóvenes Creadores del FOCAEM of the State of Mexico Grant (2013), Select in the National Biennal of Visual Arts of Yucatán (2014), Artistic Residency at National Museum of San Carlos (2008) and in 2012 he was selected to participate in the Trasatlántica – PhotoEspaña review in San José, Costa Rica.
He has participated in several individual and collective exhibitions in Mexico and abroad, as the Festival Internacional PhotoEspaña 2013 in Madrid, in the Centro Cultural Chacao in Caracas, the SESC de Consolaçao in Sao Paulo, Art Basel Miami, Centro de la Imagen, Museo de Arte Moderno of the State of Mexico and the Galería of the Laboratorio Mexicano de Imágenes, to name a few.
His exhibition "Tránsito" was part of the 14th Encuentro Nacional de Fototecas organized by the Sistema Nacional de Fototecas in Mexico (2013), as well as in the virtual gallery of the Photographic Museum of Humanity (2013).