In September, Londoners will experience an aural and visual journey through La Mixteca in Jorge Martínez Valderrama’s newest artwork: ‘Saa Ñu’ú’ (Birds Clay). Inspired by a symphony of sounds from nature, as well as using instruments that have been played for millennia, the artist has created a piece that transports the audience to a different reality.
Wind rustling in cactus needles and water trickling down streams are just some of the elements that were recorded in the field, and that Martínez Valderrama has combined flawlessly to offer an unparalleled experience of the Ñuu Savi (People of the Rain) landscape in the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Puebla and Guerrero.
This artwork is the result of a digital artist residency at the Santo Domingo Centre of Excellence for Latin American Research at the British Museum. For this project, Martínez Valderrama researched Mesoamerican musical instruments and pictorial manuscripts in the collection and collaborated with the descendants of the Indigenous communities who created them.
The artist worked with Mixtec musician Luis Fernando García Acevedo and Mixtec poet Nadia Ñuu Savi, putting Indigenous knowledge and experience at the centre by leaving their music and poetry unaltered within his composition. By combining these untouched pieces with manipulated sounds and videos of the landscape, he invites us to contemplate the sounds and environments that go unheard at the museum.
‘My artistic proposal stems from the juxtaposition of different elements and materials to discover aesthetic intersections, through moments of ambiguity and mystery. I believe that art can be revealing and meaningful, but also introspective and reflective. In the audience I hope to elicit contemplative listening, attention to the elements, to space and memory, to the resonances of those aural environments that resist and exceed time’, explains Jorge Martínez Valderrama.
The exhibition ‘Saa Ñu’ú (Birds Clay)’ by Jorge Martínez Valderrama will be held at the UK Mexican Arts Society from September 3 to October 5, 2021. Entry is free and the gallery will be open Tuesday to Saturday 12-6 pm.