Cruzton, San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, México, 1975.
Maruch Sántiz Gómez is a Tsotsil artist who presents herself as a photographer-writer; in addition, she completes her artistic practice with the design of textiles and embroidery. She is one of the artists with the greatest international impact represented by Galería MUY.
Maruch Sántiz’s work is documentary, but at the same time, she has the artistic capacity to give images an intimate, reflective look. It has been said of her compositions that they are almost conceptual. Truly, in her work, objects or people always appear devoid of additions, isolated, as if they were a symbol to enter another, deeper knowledge, which is beyond the image, or which is accessed through it.
Maruch Sántiz’s career, and thus her work, is based on his interest in language; the Tsotsil language of which she is native, but also Spanish, which, since she was little, made her curious because it was the language of those to whom her family, and she, sold pox, an indigenous alcoholic beverage. Thus, Maruch Sántiz has been training since 1990 at La Casa del Escritor, Sna Jtz’ibajom, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, an association of Mayan writers, and takes part in projects as an actress and as a Tsotsil-Spanish teacher for adults who didn’t have access to primary and secondary education.
“All languages in Mexico should have in practice the same use as Spanish; the strengthening and development of national indigenous languages should be allowed.” Maruch Sántiz.
The work of Maruch Sántiz is a work of preservation of the Mayan/Tsotsil heritage. In 1993, at the age of seventeen, she began working on the series Beliefs of our ancestors, a compendium of proverbs from the Tsotsil tradition that she began to gather naturally, in conversations with her grandparents and great-grandparents, and which she later continued through research and visits to other Tsotsile communities. It is at that moment when she comes into contact with Carlota Duarte, an American who founded the Chiapas Photographic Project in the 90s, an association that aims to teach indigenous populations the use of the camera, and thus give them the opportunity of self-representation. Maruch Sántiz decided to accompany her written work with images that tell the proverbs, because, in her own words, “photographs can also be read.” The finished series is made up of 50 black and white photographs accompanied by texts in Tsotsil-Spanish, addressed both to people outside the Tsotsil worldview, and to the native peoples of Chiapas themselves, as a reference work on their oral tradition.
“To rescue and to maintain our ancestral culture and our mother tongue. These words have never been written and no one has photographed them”. Maruch Sántiz
Beliefs of our ancestors soon became a work that attracted the attention of international audiences; on the one hand, for being a champion of the Indigenous Photographic Archive movement, and on the other, for being the direct work of an original Tsotsil artist, at a time, the 90s, when the political situation in Chiapas was very delicate.
Maruch Sántiz’s photographs have been exhibited in multiple cities in Mexico, as well as in galleries in the United States, England, Germany, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, Iceland and Taiwan. They are also part of international contemporary art centers such as the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
- Photography show, CDMX Art Week/Zonamaco, Mexico City, 2021.
- Mayan and Zoque interpretations of the (In)visible pandemic, virtual exhibition, Galería MUY, 2020.
- The art of ancient medicine, solo exhibition, Galería MUY, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, 2016.
- The art of ancient medicine, Festival Internacional Cervantino Barroco, Guanajuato, 2105.
- 75 degrees, Galería MUY, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, 2014.
- The shadows of the dream, Chiapas, 2009.
- Beliefs, Galería OMR, Mexico City, 1998.
- Beliefs from Chamula, Centro Cultural San Ángel, Mexico City, 1998.
- The art of ancient medicine, 2015.
- Registration of insects, caterpillars and other animals, 2009-2010
- The shadows of the dream, 2009.
- Beliefs of our ancestors, 1998.
- Beliefs. Maruch Sántiz Gómez, et al., Editorial Centro de la Imagen, 1998.