Art, Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Research Institute

Obsidian Mirror-Travels Explores Myths and Truths about Ancient Mexico

The current exhibition at the Getty Research Institute, Obsidian Mirror-Travels: Refracting Ancient Mexican Art and Archaeology, challenges our ideas of how we understand the past. More than 70 objects from the Colonial era to the present, including maps, books, photographs, engravings, and contemporary works, explore how artists, archaeologists, and artists have looked through a mirror darkly at ancient Mexico.

The fragments of Mexico’s Pre-Columbian past are exactly that: fragments. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to think about what fragments say about a past civilization—and what they might say about us. These pieces, like our projections onto them, change over time.

The past is rarely cohesive or reconciled, or even ever past, says scholar and author Khristaan Villela, who curated the exhibition with senior collections cataloguer Beth Guynn. “People of all kinds—explorers, professors and visual artists—continue to mine ancient Mexico for inspiration,” he says.

In this video he discusses how the exhibition came to be and gives you a taste of what you’ll see in the show.

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      #ThyCaptionBe: Sword Safety

      You captioned this detail. And we’re revealing the full story now.

      Haircut gone wrong or prop sword mishap? It’s actually story of backstabbing and assassination. 

      Here’s the full story:

      Once a great Roman military general, Pompey, fled Italy for Egypt as Caesar began a civil war. 

      When he arrived at his Egyptian exile, what Pompey thought was a welcoming party turned out to be a group of assassins. (Surprise!)

      Set against a blood-red background, Pompey’s severed head rests at the feet of Caesar who makes a gesture of rebuke.

      #ThyCaptionBe is a celebration of modern interpretations of medieval aesthetics. You guess what the heck is going on, then we myth-bust.

      02/09/16

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