In this track, Maria Choc Choc reads those words from the dictionary that resonate with the concepts of disease, colonialism, and precarity. Processes that are still present nowadays in Guatemalan society, and unfortunately many others, operating through extractivism and corruption, and supported by forced processes of loss of cultural identity.
Chinil – Boca abajo – Face down
Ahcatum – Soldado – Soldier
Alac – Caballo – Horse
Bah – Rat – Rat
Bixi U Ti – Vómito – Vomit
Çote – Arca – Ark
Hatza – Ahorcar – To hang
Hetzol Ha – Agua represada – Dammed water
Hitzpael – Volver atrás – To go back
Muac – Enfermo – Ill
Ohob – Catarro – Cold (illness)
Paxa – Arrancar de raíz – To root out
Tul – Gota – Drop
Tzoncac – Arcabuz (antigua arma de fuego) – Arquebus (ancient firearm)
Uta Ahcucai – Lunar – Mole
Uquel – Llorar – To cry
Tzactzuman – Cosa marchita – Whithered thing
Ucha – Mosquito – Mosquito
V Lem Chahac – Relámpago – Lightning
Xipi – Pulga – Flea
Xtahtam Chahac – Tela de araña – Spider web
Zuznahib – Navaja – Knife
Yaxcuch – Mosca – Fly
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.