States of the Arts


Exhalación (Estoy Viva)

by Regina José Galindo
Performance art

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In March 2014, Regina José Galindo lay, naked and anaesthetised, in an empty room inside the Pavilion of Contemporary Art, Milan. The air was chilled, the walls pale white, and the mood deathly. Motionless, Galindo’s body appeared almost as if a cadaver. Each visitor was presented with a small mirror, to be held underneath the artist’s nostrils and misted by her breath, offering a transient memento of her presence and proof of life. Even when unconscious, Galindo continued to make a mark, however ephemeral.

Words by Hugh Maloney


directed by Jayro Bustamante
Feature film

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A dark, rugged mass of rock rests, steadfast, pointing upwards to fluid skies of blue and white. Looming in the horizon, the smoking volcano threatens disaster, but a plantation exploits its fertility beneath. One family prepares for its daughter’s wedding; Maria is to marry Ignacio. She must hear her mother’s prayers, dress with grace, and dine with her future in-laws, befitting Maya tradition. But another suitor, El Pepe, waits in the wings. For Maria, the volcano may be a symbolic pillar of home and the witness to her impassioned decisions, but El Pepe pines for a world beyond it.

Words by Hugh Maloney

The Closed Silence

by Isabel de los Ángeles Ruano

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‘We remained silent […] We all violated her! […] Because now we all are the assassins of Rogelia’. In 1968, the body of Rogelia Cruz, left-wing activist and former Miss Guatemala, was discovered. She had been kidnapped, raped, and killed by a paramilitary death squad. In ‘The Closed Silence’, Isabel de los Ángeles Ruano condemns the still majority, the ‘accomplices to these dogs’, all those who fell into quiet compliance. Before, the masses had gossiped among each other, their appetite for celebrity scandal paving the way for Cruz’s martyrdom. Their behaviour, Ruano suggests, let Cruz down both in life and in death.

Words by Hugh Maloney

Fiesta de Pájaros

by Jesús Castillo Monterroso

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With Fiesta de Pájaros, composer and folk music collector Jesús Castillo Monterroso shows off his playful side. The piano piece depicts a party of birds, their songs captured by bright trills and rapid scales. In the introduction, pitches flutter above a running sequence, with harmonies rising steadily until a single chord stuns the music into silence. Despite the repetition of certain, syncopated phrases, the structure remains capricious. The two hands often work in close proximity, creating a hectic texture in which it is difficult to hear the fowl for the flock.

Words by Hugh Maloney

More to discover

Exhalación (Estoy Viva): Read more about the artwork on the PAC Milano website. Watch a video of the performance on Vimeo. Francisco Goldman has interviewed Regina José Galindo for BOMB Magazine.

Ixcanul: Watch the trailer here. Read an article on the film by Michael Atkinson for NACLA. Cassie da Costa has interviewed Jayro Bustamante for Film Comment, as has Nico Pitney for The Huffington Post.

The Closed Silence: Zoë Anglesey has translated many poems by Isabel de los Ángeles Ruano for BOMB Magazine. See here for 'The Banished' and 'The Closed Silence', and here for 'Not Many'.

Fiesta de Pájaros: Listen to the composition here. Download the sheet music from IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library (not yet in the public domain for countries within the EU).

Question of the day

Which Guatemalan artworks would you recommend, and why? Let us know on FacebookPatreon, or Twitter.

Illusion of Matter, a work of visual art by Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa. A polystyrene performance exploring war and loss, incorporating sculptural and set-design elements. (→)

– Elizabeth Brown, Silent Frame's Deputy Editor (via Twitter →)

'The Smut', a poem by Humberto Ak'abal. A delirious description of the Rorschach-like quality of drifting smoke. (→)

– Lewis Coenen-Rowe, Silent Frame Sub-Editor (via Patreon →)

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