For the exhibition The Blessings of Mystery Artists Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas present a newly commissioned film and installation series rooted in West Texas. The project crystallizes the artists’ research into the connections and tensions between cultural, scientific, industrial and socio-political forces in places such as the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, the Amistad Dam on the Rio Grande and the oil fields of the Permian Basin. .
The exhibition revolves around The teachings of the hands, a single-channel film that depicts the region’s complex stories of colonization, migration, and ecological precariousness from the perspective of Juan Mancias, president of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. The video installation combines observational and experimental documentaries with oral histories, reconstructions and archival footage. Weaving together scenes from today to 4,000 years in the past, in lands where indigenous and colonial knowledge was historically produced, The teachings of the hands highlights the environmental memories and cosmologies that coexist within Somi Se’k*.
The film is complemented by immersive installations of flags and surveying tools; several series of drawings and collages; and a collection of 1930s watercolors by artists and amateur archaeologists Forrest and Lula Kirkland that depicts ancient rock art from the Lower Pecos. On loan from the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas, these rarely seen plein-air paintings document the original shapes and vibrant colors of the murals that were still visible in the 1930s, before flooding, erosion and human interaction will damage or destroy them.
The Blessings of Mystery emerges from the multidisciplinary practices of Caycedo and Rozas, which are guided by environmental justice, encounters between history and memory, and Indigenous rights and cosmologies. For this exhibit and in its previous iterations across the state, Caycedo and de Rozas investigate the transformation of Somi Se’k* through industry, infrastructure and private property.
*Somi Se’k means the land of the sun and is how the Carrizo Comecrudo tribe refers to the land known as Texas.
The exhibition is curated by Laura Copelin, former director and curator, Ballroom Marfa.
main support for The Blessings of Mystery is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and VIA Art Fund. Major support is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation; and Kevin Sherman. Generous support is provided by the City of Marfa and the Texas Commission on the Arts. Exhibitions at Ballroom are supported by The Brown Foundation, Inc.; Fairfax Dorn & Marc Glimcher; Virginie Lebermann and her family; Lebermann Foundation; Ballroom Marfa Board of Directors, International Surf Club and Ballroom Members.