Guanajuato, vista desde el cerro de San Miguel, ca. 1783. Archivo General de Indias. Creative Commons


The 15th Bienal FEMSA focuses on the poetic dimension of art, proposing a call to different senses, in light of the centrality of sight and its rationalization in the West. The jump-off is a mountain, as image, metaphor, memory, and bodily experience that symbolizes a path to discovery and to building relations with the world. Throughout time, we have configured different images of mountains, determined by ways of seeing them, from landscape painting to scientific illustrations, literary myth, or even an evocation of oral tradition. The mountain is an entity to which human and magic qualities have been attributed; it is a temporal interweave, of materiality and ways of life. The mountain is the power of discovery and encounter with different wisdoms, whose journey demands the body to sharpen all its senses. Hearing its voice implies opening up to different sensory experiences and calling on all that is rarely perceived. 


The Voice of the Mountain’s curatorial lines explore corporality, identity, territory and landscape, themes that traverse participating artists’ practices and that dialogue with the venues that are home to this biennial iteration in Guanajuato. In any given territoriality, political and geographic limits—but also beliefs, resistance and ritual—organize bodies and condition their relation to the world. Beneath its landscapes’ topographies, territory accumulates history levels that resound as they overlap and crash into others. Thinking from and with the place implies hearing stories recounted hundreds of times, especially those that barely sounded, that were never heard or that are heard from afar. 


The artistic practices we’ve called together explore ways of moving through known landscapes, cohabitating with the surrounding tonalities, crossing over the mountain—not just along the beaten path—but instead through its crisscross and other paths not yet blazed. From their varying existence modes, these practices share a willingness to associate with ways of feeling and thinking in resonance with non-Occidental epistemologies, with feminisms, critical pedagogies, knowledge recognition, the oneiric, the ritual, intuition and desire. These insist on the poetic dimension of the art, that chooses to turn and look and go beyond just frameworks and assaying perspectives. Its questions emerge from the body, pointing to the power of identities in constant transformation, alongside lived experience that does not conceive of landscape as an alien space, but rather a space into which humanity fits.

The Voice of the Mountain is an integral program that unfolds like a wide topography, replete with peaks and valleys, including the deeply hidden. Like a territorial extension, when we cross over, we face different altitudes that let us see things from varying points of view and differing scopes, paths that diverge or converge, leading to clearings and shade, to rest, and to rivers we must ford.