Codex Humboldt Fragment 1 / Codex Azoyú Reverso
A contemporary elective affinityThe term Mesoamerica is used to describe a region in North and Central America that was shaped by shared cultural traits. It covered an area now occupied by Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of Honduras, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. In pre-colonial times a large population lived there and various indigenous cultures emerged, including the Aztec, Huaxtec, Mixtec, Olmec, Zapotec, Maya, and Cotzumalhuapa cultures. Impressive reliefs as well as large, sculptures of animal figures, mythical creatures, and deities are among the surviving artefacts from the Cotzumalhuapa culture.
Along with the eight mighty Cotzumalhuapa stelae from 650-950 and other artefacts, a large-scale modern installation dominates the Mesoamerica gallery in the Humboldt Forum. Using 320 terracotta tiles, the Mexican artist Mariana Castillo Deball created the largest contemporary artwork within the presentations of the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst. Her installation Codex Humboldt Fragment 1/Codex Azoyú Reverso almost completely covers the two-storey high southern end of the hall and was made possible by a donation from the “Friends of the Ethnologisches Museum”. In this work, the Berlin-based artist refers to two pictographic documents, the “Codex Humboldt Fragment 1” and “Codex Azoyú Reverso”. These are records of tax payments from the Tlapa region in Guerrero to the Aztec conquerors and rulers from the sixteenth century. Alexander von Humboldt acquired the “Codex Humboldt Fragment 1” during his visit to New Spain at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Today, the fragment is in the collection of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Berlin State Library). The Codex Azoyú Reverso was rediscovered in 1940 in Guerrero, Mexico.
Mariana Castillo Deball was born in Mexico City in 1975. She lives and works in Berlin. Castillo Deball closely interweaves art and research. Archaeological finds, which the artist analyses and presents through her cultural interpretations, are often the focus of her art. She places attention not only on traces of a thing’s use, but also on individual, free associations about the history of the found or already archived objects. Works completed in quite diverse media – including drawing, film, sculpture, installation and performance, with which Castillo Deball considerably expands the possibilities of artistic representation – result from this process of deconstruction.
Castillo Deball has had solo exhibitions at the New Museum, New York, USA (2019), the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago, USA (2018), the Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico (2018), the SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia, USA (2018), the Galerie Wedding, Berlin, Germany (2017), the San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, USA (2016), the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Mexico (2015), Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany (2014), the Musée Régional D’art Contemporain, Sérignan, France (2015), CCA, Glasgow, Great Britain (2013), the Chisenhale Gallery, London, Great Britain (2013), the Museo Experimentelles El Eco, Mexico City, Mexico (2011), and the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, USA (2010). Her group exhibitions include the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy (2018), LACMA, Los Angeles, USA (2017), the 32nd São Paolo Biennial, Brazil (2016), the Liverpool Biennial, Great Britain (2016), the 8th Berlin Biennale, Berlin, Germany (2014), documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2013), and the 54th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2011).