Izabal, Guatemala, is at the heart of the ancestral lands of the Ch’olti’. The sounds recorded are those made by the trucks transporting mena de níquel (nickle ore) from the mines to the international market.
Hocho (Abrirse las orejas / To Open One’s Ears, 2022-ongoing) is a sound work that invites us into a journey not only through a specific geography—that of the Chol’ in Guatemala—but throughout time, since the Spanish colonial invasion to nowadays. How could we listen and learn from the voices of the Ch’olti’, prosecuted and nearly exterminated by the Spaniards in the 17th century, and how could their loss be repaired in an area where both cultural and ecological extractivism has operated for centuries. This piece began as a historical research, which then quickly became a very personal journey for the artist into retracing most of the terrain covered by internal refugees during the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996).
Commissioned by TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary for TB21 on st_age, this work was also supported by extra funds from the Inga Maren Otto Fellowship (The Watermill Center, NY).
Field and voice recordings were made with the assistance of Ameno Cordova and Stef Arreaga.