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FilmVisual Art

The Blessings of the Mystery — Carolina Caycedo & David de Rozas

26 May - 4 Sept 2022


Marfa, Texas


Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas

Traveling to the Visual Arts Center at The University of Texas at Austin, September 24–December 3, 2021; The Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at The University of Texas at El Paso, January 27–April 15, 2022; and Ballroom Marfa, May 26–September 4, 2022.

Ballroom Opening Celebration: Saturday, June 4, 2022

For the exhibition, The Blessings of the Mystery, artists Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas create a new film and series of installations rooted in West Texas. The project crystallizes the artists’ extended research into the connections and tensions between the cultural, scientific, industrial, and socio-political forces of three key locations: the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, the Amistad Dam on the Rio Grande, and the Permian Basin oil fields.

The multifaceted presentation centers around The Teachings of the Hands, a single-channel film that depicts the region’s complex histories of colonization, migration, and ecological precarity from the perspective of Juan Mancias, Chairman of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. The video-installation combines observational and experimental documentary with oral histories, reenactments, archival footage and documents. The film’s narrative grows out of the land where both Indigenous and settler knowledge have been historically produced. Weaving together scenes from the present day to 4,000 years in the past, The Teachings of the Hands highlights the environmental memories and consciousness of these interconnected places across Texas. 

The artists use sculpture, installation, collage, and drawing to expand on the concepts and ideas in the film, offering viewers a physical and multisensory experience of the film’s storylines. Additionally, the exhibition includes original watercolors from the 1930s by artists and amateur archaeologists Forest and Lula Kirkland, which record the ancient rock art of the Lower Pecos, on loan from the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas. These rarely-seen watercolors document the original forms and vibrant colors that were still visible in the 30s, before flooding, erosion, and human interaction damaged or destroyed them.

The Blessings of the Mystery is an extension of Caycedo and de Rozas’s multidisciplinary practice centered around environmental issues, encounters between history and memory, Indigenous rights, and other cosmologies. For their exhibition and its iterations across Texas, Caycedo and de Rozas investigate the transformation of Somi Se’k* by way of industry, infrastructure, and private property. 

*Somi Se’k means the Land of the Sun, and is the way the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe refer to the land known as Texas.

Blessings of the Mystery is organized by Ballroom Marfa and curated by Laura Copelin, Director, with Daisy Nam, Curator. 

The exhibition will travel to the Visual Arts Center (VAC) at The University of Texas at Austin and the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at The University of Texas at El Paso. The VAC presentation is organized by MacKenzie Stevens, Director, and the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts presentation is organized by Kerry Doyle, Director. 

Listen: Transmissions

Listen to Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas talk about their research in West Texas and Blessings of the Mystery on Transmissions.

Artist Profiles

Carolina Caycedo

Carolina Caycedo (b.1978) is a multidisciplinary artist known for her performances, video, artist’s books,sculptures and installations that examine environmental and social issues. She has held residencies at the DAAD inBerlin and The Huntington in San Marino; received funding from Creative Capital and Prince Claus Fund;participated in the Chicago Architecture, Sao Paulo, Venice, Berlin, and Whitney Biennials; 2020 solo showsinclude ICA Boston and MCA Chicago. She is a 2020-2022 Inaugural Borderlands Fellow at the Center forImagination in the Borderlands, Arizona State University, and Vera List Center for Art and Politics, The NewSchool.

David de Rozas

David de Rozas (b.1979) is a multidisciplinary artist and award-winning filmmaker whose practice merges experimental documentary and contemporary art forms, revisiting and relocating the politics of memory. De Rozas films have been screened in festivals and film curated series worldwide, such as Visions du Réel, SheffieldDoc/Fest, True/False, and Kassel DocFest.His recent film ‘GIVE’ was nationally broadcasted on P.O.V, and won Best Short Documentary at FullFrame and Best Experimental at the Smithsonian African American FilmFestival.He is a 2021 Artist in Residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts