Bahia de Chaque
Huatulco, Oaxaca Mexico 2007

Mexico’s ‘mother of spirituality’ La Virgen de Guadalupe based on the Spanish Catholic narrative also reveals the Indigenous roots to the Aztec Earth Goddess, Tonantlin. Their stories express the importance of a Mother figure who assimilates the Mexican population of the New World concept with an acceptable Old World concept. Guadalupe remains one of the most venerated images in Chicano/Chicana culture, appearing on churches, schools, houses, stores, on candles, as tattoos, decals and even on mouse pads. She is quoted as being the single most potent religious, political, and cultural image of Mexico.

The enormous basilica of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe in Mexico City is the most visited pilgrimage site in the Western Hemisphere. Its location, on the hill of Tepeyac, was a place of great sanctity long before the arrival of Christianity in the New World. In pre-Hispanic times, Tepeyac had been crowned with a temple dedicated to an Earth and fertility goddess called Tonantzin, the Mother of the Gods. The Christian Guadalupe who replaced her shrine, was portrayed as a virgin goddess. Following the conquest of Tenochtitlan by Hernan Cortez in 1521, the Tepeyac shrine was demolished, and the native people were forbidden to makepilgrimages to the sacred hill. Such practices were considered by the Christians to be devil worship.

We wanted to do a work – a construction as a ceremonial activity; a ritual that would challenge the destruction of ancient pagan sites as well as re-unite Guadalupe with the symbol of the Earth Goddesses; re-fertilizing her as the Mother ‘Madre’ of Mexico.

A site was a difficult challenge. Every town, village in Mexico has a prominent shrine or church dedicated to Guadalupe. They are very important sites for both Catholics and Indigena as witnessed in the blend of decorations and rituals at these sites. In respect of these religious sites, we chose a natural earth site for our work. The site is in Oaxaca on the Bahias de Chaque, Huatulco. Here the jungles give way to coastal rock formation that extend into the Pacific ocean. Great fissures emanate from these formations opening out into the water.

Material: Jamaica (pronounced hai my eik a) – dried hibiscus flowers used medicinally in a tea. We liked the idea of a material that was both about healing and ceremony. We placed the material into the crevice of the rock following the fissure for about 30 feet into the ocean. We placed the material at low tide. As the tides rose the water activated the hibiscus creating a rich fertile red tea that oozed from the stone into the sea. We documented the work as this occurred. The leaves swept out creating new lines in the ocean later washing ashore as a shoreline ... the life-giving blood of mother earth.


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