Daniel Fernando Guarcax González: My individuality is composed of Kaqchikel Maya patterns of relationality and my existence has always been rooted in community, beginning with my family and, for the last eighteen years, as a member of Grupo Sotz'il, a collective dedicated to the development of Mayan xajoj q’ojom. Xajoj q’ojom, a Kaqchikel concept which underscores the interdependence between “dance" and “music,” means more than dance or music; theorizing xajoj q’ojom, from the collective experience of Grupo Sotz’il, will be one my principal contributions in this collaboration. I am an I continue to be an ajxajonel ajq’ojomanel (dancer-musician); for this I’m indebted to my mother and father, my grandparents, the grandparents of my grandparents, and my teachers, Kaji’ Imox and B’eleje’ K’at, the last Kaqchikel rulers at the time of the Spanish invasion in 1524 and leaders of the anti-colonial resistance. Thanks to them, and to my ch'umilal (star), and everything that flows around me, today I am here and I continue becoming ajxajonel ajq’ojomanel, thereby fulfilling my political, social, and spiritual commitments. Through this, my path, I will continue to musicalize spaces, and to shape movements in time. I'm one among many ajxajonel ajq’ojomanel of the past, present, and future.
Tohil Fidel Brito Bernal: I have a hard time categorizing myself, and because of that I start not with what I am, but with what I do. I work with this in mind: that art is tool of knowledge and communication; therefore, I use what is necessary, be it drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, carving, often as a counterpart of arte-acción, or performance. I also plant gardens wherever I am. Although I do this to feed myself and my family, and to earn a living, I consider it an art, a spiritual practice and an act of resistance. My ‘government name’ is Fidel. But Tohil is who I am; it is the name that I claim, and that claims me, as it was given to me by my Achi father before his disappearance during the genocidal war that the State launched against the Indigenous majority of Guatemala. This name restores a direct connection to the people to whom I belong. I am Ixil and Achi Maya. I complement the teachings of my Ixil mother and grandmother, and of my community, with studies in archeology completed at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala and independent research on Mayan epigraphy and iconography, knowing that these archaeological records contain traces of the knowledge that the colony attempted to destroy. In this article I contribute in various ways, especially in the depiction and analysis of the Mayan epigraphy of terms for what has been referred to as “dance.” However, my contribution is that of an artist who researches and experiments, and not of an archaeologist or linguist. My practice is dedicated to understanding Mayan art in all its diversity—not to contribute to archaeology, per se—but to in order to connect personally with the knowledge of my ancestors and share it with others. My art is, therefore, a political act, since it represents an obstinate insistence on existence, despite centuries of colonialism, war, and genocide as well as the strategic violence and impoverishment of the recent postwar period. I understand my history through the art I make. More importantly, my art nurtures the present and contributes, albeit modestly, to my future as well as that of my people and others who we share this planet with.
WHO WE ARE
Imaginations is a multilingual, open-access journal of international visual cultural studies. It is published twice yearly and is double-blind peer-reviewed. As a knowledge democracy project, Imaginations is free to submit to and free to read. Founded at the University of Alberta in 2010, the journal is funded by the federal granting agency of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).