New Media

  • Mojo’q che b’ixan ri ixkanulab’ / Antes de que los Volcanes Canten / Before the Volcanoes Sing
    Clarissa Tossin

Seated Female Figure with Monkey and Child, 2019. 3-D scanned and printed terracotta replica of Pre-Columbian Maya ocarina (Guatemala, 550–950 AD), 13.5 x 11 x 5.5 inches. Original in the collection of the Denver Art Museum

Clarissa Tossin takes a sonic approach to the articulation of indigenous cultural motifs borrowed by Western architects in the 1920s Mayan Revival style—most prominently Frank Lloyd Wright’s cement block houses—by utilizing 3-D scanned and printed replicas of Maya flutes from pre-Columbian collections held in US and Guatemalan museums. Filmed mainly at the Sowden House in Los Angeles, the Mayan iconography—co-opted, transformed, and re-inscribed in modern American architecture—is animated in a kind of healing ritual, opening up an alternate space for these structures to live in the present in continuity with the cultural hybridity of contemporary Mayan communities in Los Angeles. Mojo’q che b’ixan ri ixkanulab’ / Antes de que los Volcanes Canten / Before the Volcanoes Sing features Maya poet Rosa Chávez, flautist Alethia Lozano Birrueta, with a music score by composer Michelle Agnes Magalhães, and cinematography by Jeremy Glaholt. The 3-D scanned and printed playable replicas of Maya flutes were created by anthropologist/archaeologist Jared Katz.

Clarrisa Tossin’s work has been exhibited widely, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; the Queens Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; the 12th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; La Kunsthalle Mulhouse, France; the Center for Contemporary Art, Israel; and SESC Pompéia, Brazil. Her work is housed in several public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Harvard Art Museums, and has been reviewed in Artforum, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, X-tra Magazine, and elsewhere. Tossin was recently awarded a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant (2019), an Artadia Los Angeles Award (2018), and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship from Harvard University (2017–18). She received a master’s in fine arts from the California Institute of Arts and is based in Los Angeles.