Painter, performance, video artist, muralist
1985, Guayabal, El Rayón, Chiapas
Saúl Kak (Saúl Méndez Díaz) employs a unique contemporary idiom, often in multimedia, as an “artivista” or artist-activist. He explores themes relating to the Zoque people and to marginalized groups, including Indigenous people in general, migrants, and others. The Zoque civilization antecedes that of the Mayan peoples: “the grandmother of them all”, he remarks. Many Zoque towns are now in danger of loosing their language, tradition and culture, and so Kak’s work is oriented toward its revitalization in a new traditional-cum-contemporary way, and in rescuing the values of Mesoamerican First Nations in general.
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In 1982, Saúl’s family was displaced by the eruption of the Chichona volcano, and took up new residence in the Zoque speaking town of El Rayón. He began his formal training at UNICACH in Tuxtla Gutierrez, and after graduating in 2011, he co-founded EDELO, an arts collective specializing in performance art.
Kak’s work often combines visual and performance media. He is currently working on “Inundation and Survival”, a piece that centers in on the Chicoasén dam and petroleum drilling taking place in Zoque territory. He also co-directed an independent film with Charles Fairbanks, called “The Black Jungle” (2016).
He is also deeply committed to bringing contemporary art to indigenous communities, and as Operations Coordinator at Gallery MUY, curates exhibits in rural Chiapas and in San Cristobal.
Exhibits of his graphic and video art have enjoyed critical acclaim in shows in Mexico, Europe and the United States.
Kak’s practice sometimes combines visual and performance media, especially in the on-going work, “Inundation and Survival”, taking up the issue of the Chicoasén dam and petroleum drilling, in Zoque territory. Kak also makes documentaries and short films; he was, with Charles Fairbanks, the co-director of the major independent film, “The Black Jungle” (2016).
Kak has a deep commitment to bringing contemporary art to indigenous communities. Part of his work as Operations Coordinator at the Gallery MUY has to do with organizing exhibits in rural Chiapas, as well as participating in the curating of exhibits in the MUY in San Cristóbal, and elsewhere.
Exhibits of Kak’s own graphic and video art have enjoyed critical acclaim in shows in Mexico, Europe and the United States.