Christian Salablanca Díaz (b. Costa Rica) | Geometry of the Center - Snake boneSep 15, 2021
My name is Christian Salablanca Díaz. I am an artist from Costa Rica.
The body of work I have produced over the past two years has been influenced by myths and narratives that arise from familial encounters with ancestral communities. I am interested in using stories from oral tradition that explain different forms of ancient and symbolic knowledge through narration to develop installations, sculptures, drawings and performances.
I have undertaken commissions, exhibitions and residencies in collaboration with many institutions from different countries. I developed one of my recent projects during the FLORA ars+natura residency, which consisted of travelling with several artists and the curator José Roca to the Sierra Nevada of Colombia, a trip based on the learning of the ancestral communities of Terunna (Ciudad Perdida). The project, titled Geometría del Centro (‘Geometry of the Centre’), was exhibited by Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art (TBA21) as part of ‘How to Tread Lightly. #st_age expanded, an exhibition’ in 2020.
Geometry of the Center
Oral traditions are a central element of both my present and future projects. Geometría del Centro led to certain changes in my artistic research. First, I had been interested in orally transmitted stories. And now I also wanted to gain knowledge about nature.
This project is made up of a series of charcoal sculptures based on geometric designs depicting the cosmogony of two ancestral communities from Colombia and Costa Rica. These sculptures served as instruments for drawing abstract cartographies on paper that emphasized the knowledge and learning of ancient myths about the creation of the world. Accompanying the sculptures and drawings, a video projected on the wall recorded the creation of the drawings – a kind of performance – in the manner of a video-poem. It narrated a myth about the creation of the world and how two ancestral sacred centers could function as an open-air school and places of intellectual exchange with various populations at the same time. I used the same narrative to make the drawing according to the orality of the myth and emphasize the importance of water and mountains.
I continued this research in Snake bone (2021), which was born from the stories my grandmother told me about her father's medical and spiritual practices in southern Costa Rica. She told me about a plant with various uses, from curing poisonous snake bites to predicting the future. These family stories sparked my interest in the snake’s symbolism in the local culture. As a result, I produced reptile-like sculptures from charcoal and eraser. Their tails are made of blown glass and become containers of medical and spiritual information about some plants, seeds, roots and leaves.
I am currently developing Water Mirrors, a project working with ceramics that shares many of the interests of these previous works, exploring historical narrative and personal speculation on various indigenous legends and myths concerning water and the sky in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean.
You can see the whole project and interviews with the curators at https://www.stage.tba21.org/episode/episode-4. and https://macpanama.org/blogs/exposiciones/mesotropicos.