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Voices of Silence Martinique

Martinique Caribbean


Jocelyn Akwaba Matignon, painter, and Sébastien Perrot-Minnot, archaeologist specializing in the Amerindian world and Honorary Consul of Guatemala in Fort-de-France, first met in 2017, during a visit to Martinique by Guatemalan Mayan spiritual guide Francisca Salazar Guaran, known as "Nana Panchita". Since then, they have met regularly, and developed prolific exchanges on the themes of art, Amerindian traditions and pre-Columbian archaeology.

Following their collaboration on Jocelyn Akwaba-Matignon's exhibition, "Les Seigneurs - Lords" (2020-2021), the idea came to them to undertake a project of dialogue between Art and Archaeology, in order to enrich their respective reflections and practices - following in this an approach that has delivered very interesting results, in recent years, in various parts of the world.

In an article published in 2016 in Les nouvelles de l'archéologie, "Les archéologues sur le terrain de l'art contemporain", Orientalist archaeologist Michaël Jasmin concluded: ""Artistic" interventions rarely aim to increase knowledge or understanding of past societies, but they very precisely question our relationship with the past. They also play finely with the polysemy of the meanings and uses of archaeology. To the questions they pose for the discipline, its methods, modes of visualization, procedures and mediation practices, they provide interesting and often accurate answers.

Jocelyn Akwaba-Matignon and Sébastien Perrot-Minnot thus decided to cross their views and combine their approaches in a dialogue concerning 20 pre-Hispanic works from Guatemala, "Heart of the Mayan World", a country to which they are both very attached. The works in question - whose number refers to a powerful Mayan numerical symbolism - were chosen for their power to evoke, fascinate and question. They were produced in different regions: on the Pacific coast, in the highlands and in the lowlands (in Quirigua, a World Heritage site). Some are famous, while others are unknown to the general public. The corpus includes a wide variety of sculptures, as well as an architectural structure.

The artist and archaeologist approached these works together, during a visit to Guatemala in 2021-2022, with the support of public institutions, owners of fincas containing pre-Hispanic remains, and archaeologists. They then interpreted the archaeological assets, each from their own point of view and in their own way, with words and forms, and engaged in long and fascinating conversations about them. Their reflections included contributions from spiritual guide Francisca Salazar Guaran, and the project as a whole benefited from the guidance and invaluable support of Sylvie Jean-Baptiste.

The results have exceeded the expectations of both protagonists, opening up new horizons for artistic creativity, heritage enhancement, archaeological research and, ultimately, for the idea of ourselves as human beings.

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