Hombre de maíz (Corn man)

  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Photograph on cotton paper
  • Descriptive technique: 
    Photographic record of a ritual-performance made up of 24 photographs
  • Edition/serial number: 
  • Category: 
    Performance, Photography
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 
  • Long-term loan of Fundación Museo Reina Sofía, 2020 (Donation of Julia Borja)

“Walking in search of the grave of Miguel Ángel Asturias. Since 1974 he has rested in peace in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France. Walking silently with the whole body covered in corn flour (Maseca), and locations: where Asturias lived, the former Guatemala Embassy where Asturias served as an ambassador or at the René Descartes monument; walking the streets and avenues of Paris in a symbolic direction, searching for Asturias’s grave, arriving at the cemetery where Asturias is buried. In the cemetery a ritual performance will be carried out in silence; stopping beside the grave, always in silence, I will stop silently for thirteen minutes; close to the grave. From the starting point to the cemetery it will take twenty-five minutes, plus another thirteen at the cemetery.
The performance ritual is to take flowers as Maize to Miguel Ángel Asturias in conjunction with the birthday of the distinguished, world-renowned Guatemalan writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1967. He was born on 19 October 1899 and died on 9 June 1974.
The performance ritual is an homage to Miguel Ángel Asturias. Men of Maize is Asturias’s most famous book beyond Guatemala’s borders. Men of Maize is the name given to those born in the lands of Ixim Ulew Guatemala (ixim-Maíz ulew-tierra or territory), currently called MAYAS. The Mayans are made of maize, according to Popol Vuh. I, Benvenuto Chavajay, an Indigenous Mayan from Guatemala am also Maize. Here and now I come to shout silently into the ears of Miguel Ángel Asturias. We are still here, over here; here and there. The ritual is a way to heal the different layers and eras of history which our Guatemalan society has suffered.
In the end, the ritual is only carried out in the areas surrounding the cemetery. A request was sent to the management of the cemetery in order for the rituality to be carried out around Miguel Ángel Asturias’s grave. The reply was a resounding no”.
Benvenuto Chavajay