The Mountain I am,
the air I am
the spirit that flows in all things I am
I surround you
- Matilde, the artist's elder
The Mountain I am, Urku ñuka kani contains two elements, a composite video and a large-scale handmade ceramic sound instrument. The video documents Koyoltzintli Miranda-Rivadeneira performing a series of rituals in which she introduces herself to the landscape of Ulster County, New York, where she lived in quarantine over the past year. Miranda-Rivadeneira enacts alli kawsay, a Kichwa word for balanced living with the earth, something learned from years of watching her mamita enter a new landscape and salute. This act of harmonizing with the landscape becomes a form of “languaging,” using Walter Mignolo’s term, a disruptive space between being and belonging, thinking and writing. Drawing on the air or on the ground, in an impermanent mark made with stones, mud, ice and branches, these simple iconographies echo ancestral pictographs that are universal, ancient, and urgent. These videos aim to address our intersectionality with the earth, the responsibility to acknowledge the first stewards of this land and the natural environment.
The ceramic trumpet is part of a series of instruments Miranda-Rivadeneira has been creating based on pre-Columbian instruments, and through x-rays and other documentation, captures the exact hertz, or audio frequency, of these ancient wind instruments. The vessel is adorned with symbols of Central and South American flora and fauna—the palm, cacao, and ceiba—celebrating the diversity of nature and recognizing their fragility. Sounds from this instrument and others created by Miranda-Rivadeneira are layered in the video, starting with the first sound heard, a heart beat. She notes, “Imperial temporality interrupted the passing of many ancestral oral rituals yet ritual never ceases to exist. The sounds of these instruments access a cosmology that is in deep relation to the language of nature where we can penetrate into a dialogue across time with our ancestors and the ancestors of this land.” The makana, or Ikat pattern found in Ecuador and many cultures across the world, recognizes the universality of these connections to the land and its people and the artist’s hope to draw attention to everyone’s connection to the land in this deep way.
Photos courtesty of Sebastian Bach.
Miranda-Rivadeneira is an Ecuadorian American artist and curandera from Queens, New York who investigates Indigenous ways of relating to the land, through photography, video, ceramics, and sound. The artist captures within a multifaceted exchange between herself and the land, achieving levels of intimacy as both a creator and a subject, an intimacy that is often withheld through the Westernized lens of photography and video’s history of colonial bias.
She has exhibited at the United Nations and Aperture Foundation, both NY; and the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. She has been an artist in residence in the United States, France, and Italy and has taught at CalArts, School of Visual Arts, International Center of Photography, and City University of New York. Miranda-Rivadeneira is a recipient of multiple awards and fellowships including the NYFA Fellowship, and the Photographic Fellowship at the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris. Her first monograph, Other Stories, was published in 2017 by Autograph ABP. Her work was featured in the Native America issue of Aperture (no. 240) published in fall 2020, as well as in the book Latinx Photography in the United States: A Visual History by Elizabeth Ferrer, published in January 2021.
Want to learn more about Koyoltzintli's previous work at BRIC? Check out this video:
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The Project Room, located adjacent to the Gallery in BRIC House is an added resource for video work, BRIC's emerging curator program, small-scale exhibitions and experimental curatorial projects.