The multi-sensory exhibition Anima is a meditation on the divide between Man and Animal and a reflection on the concept of the soul as told through a legendary Lacandon figure, K’in Obregon. Obregon is an important character for the Lacandon Maya people, who have been living in the Mesoamerican Rainforest for centuries. Valentine Losseau, an anthropologist and dramatist, has been working with K’in Obregon’s family for seven years and spoke with K’in about his strange and mysterious life shortly before his death.
According to legend, K’in Obregon was invited to the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1937 to be exhibited as a “native” in what today might be called a human zoo. This practice has been condemned for the dehumanization of indigenous peoples in portraying them as curiosities, as animals. K’in then returned to Mexico and his death was announced several years later. One day, however, he reappeared in his community, claiming he had been reincarnated.
Anima uses the tale of this enigmatic figure as a starting point to investigate the divide between animate and inanimate, human and animal, naturalism and animism. On the one hand, the “occidental” perspective places man above the natural world and the animal, both of which are devoid of the soul. For the Mayan, however, each of their lives are fundamentally linked to an animal totem, a creature existing simultaneously in the physical world and the underworld. Every night, the Lacandons turn themselves into animal forms in their dreams, which they view as a dimension of the real.
Visitors will partake in an experimental and sensorial experience lodged between forest and archeological site, immersed in a world of myth and magic. Children will be the main actors in this installation thanks to a supplemental book to enrich the visit, and will be invited to expand on the perspectives that change and evolve with the rise and fall of civilizations, eras and ecosystems. All are invited to ask: what if the relationship between humans and animals was not vertical, but horizontal, as equals? What if animals do have souls?
La Compagnie 14:20:
Raphael Navarro, artistic director
Valentine Losseau, dramatist and anthropologist
Benjamin Gabrié, scenographer
Prune Nourry, artist
Etienne Saglio, magician
Takao Shiraishi, artist
March 5–April 18
51 Bergen St
Anima is commissioned by The Invisible Dog Art Center and co-presented with the Tilt Kids Festival.
With the generous support of Elizabeth Krief Manardo & Jacques Manardo and the additional support of Action Environmental Group and the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York.
This exhibition has been made possible, in part, with support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The Invisible Dog Art Center’s 2016 Exhibition series is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).