Chosen Memories: Contemporary Latin American Art from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift and Beyond

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*The Castle [Chichén Itzá]*

Leandro Katz. The Castle [Chichén Itzá]. 1985 376

Gelatin silver print, 20 × 16" (50.8 × 40.6 cm). Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of May Castleberry. © 2024 Leandro Katz

Artist, Leandro Katz: My name is Leandro Katz. I am a poet and a visual artist.

In the 1840s, John L. Stephens wrote two books, which were illustrated by the works of Frederick Catherwood, an architect and a great illustrator. Stephens proposed the idea of looking for Mayan ruins in Yucatán and Central America and they both uncovered over 70 monuments.

In 1984, I began The Catherwood Project. The idea was to reconstruct those explorations, and I would hold a book with engraving by Catherwood in front of the location, trying to occupy the same point of view that Catherwood had used.

When we look at one of the works in The Catherwood Project, we are looking at different periods of time. I took the photograph in the 1980s. If we look at the engraving that Catherwood made in the 1840s, there is another layer of time. And then, if we look at the Mayan monuments, we are looking at 1500 years ago. And also, we have the time when the spectator looks at the work.

My work is really about generating reflection. I want to understand the context of the period, the social conditions of the period. And the colonialist approach in the engravings.