• Artist Talk

Marilyn Boror – On the Power of Names

Artist, activist, and mediator Marilyn Boror discusses colonisation, structural racism, and her project “Edicto cambio de nombre” with Sebastián Eduardo.
In Guatemala, legally changing a name costs less than 3000 quetzals, about 350 euros, and only needs to be announced in local newspapers. Boror tracked every name change in the newspapers for a year and noted that 440 indigenous Guatemalans changed their names in that time. To understand the process, the artist changed her own Kaqchikel Maya surname to “Castillo Novella”, the surnames of two of Guatemala’s most powerful families. She published an announcement of her name change in popular newspapers and the action quickly went viral.
For Boror, the practice of changing a name is an example of how colonization is ongoing and still determines Guatemalan society. Internalised oppression causes people to negate their indigenous heritage in favour of assimilation with a Western Eurocentric world. Structural racism in Guatemala has led to discrimination against Mayan population for centuries, even though statistically, they constitute a majority in the country.

Marilyn Boror is a visual artist and activist born in 1984 in a Kaqchikel Maya community in San Juan Sacatepéquez, which borders Guatemala City. In her practice, she uses language and her own body as a political space to reveal the continuities of deeply rooted patriarchal, racist, and colonialist power relationships and practices.
Sebastián Eduardo [Dávila] was born 1993 in Guatemala City and studied art history and film studies in Jena (B.A.), Mexico City and Berlin (M.A.). He is a doctoral candidate in the graduate group “Cultures of Criticism” at Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany; preliminary topic: “The decolonial turn in contemporary art practices and terminology in postwar Guatemala. An art history of delinking“.

The event is part of the project “This might be a place for humming birds”, curated by Çağla Ilk and Antje Weitzel, which is on show on 16 November 2019 – 5 February 2020 at Galerie im Körnerpark, Berlin-Neukölln.

Supported by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe / Programme Open-Sector Funding, and the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa).

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