[…] “Everything in Vir Andres Hera’s work relates first and foremost to language. The artist, who is of African-Mexican and Otomi descent, uses language and languages to convey a staggering body of research on history, colonisation, and cultural transfers and intermixing. The microanalysis that Hera develops is the result of both his conscience, his knowledge of linguistic transfers throughout time and his will to make use of the latest technology and of contemporary visual media in order to (re)discover the world.
Therefore, the central element of his piece Piramidal is the Aljamiado, a process born in Andalusia before the Reconquista, which consisted in writing texts in Spanish using the Arabic alphabet. In this case, the film features a 1689 poem by Juana Inés de la Cruz, Primero Sueño, which uses this linguistic process, over footage of rural processions. Allegorical floats dripping with gold decorations, which reveal the lasting influence of Spanish baroque from the time of the conquistadors; multi-coloured statues of religious icons, burning altar candles and locals dressed up in the image of Christ. From the language heard to the images seen, we move through several worlds, both Spanish and Arabic. These two worlds are condensed and act as palimpsests with one another. Not only are they works by the artist but also phenomena that spanned ages and eras, continents and geopolitical shifts throughout history. To what is already there, Hera adds the complexity and perspective of a young artist who is highly aware of the prevailing issues in the world today.” […] The City of Words, to quote the title of Alberto Manguel’s work, which inhabits Hera’s translinguistic world, can also be found in Misurgia, [which] is once again based on the translinguistic works of Juana Inés de la Cruz, while the title itself refers to Athanasius Kircher’s Misurgia Universalis. […] Hera’s film immerses us in a cosmic universe, with frame-by-frame animations developed using photograms extracted with the help of electron microscopes at UMET, a laboratory specialised in materials science. The analysis of samples from various sources produced these images: drops of various liquids, sediments that led to the formation of continents (soil, volcanic rocks), fragments of minerals (meteorites), animals (stuffed animals, skins, insects), and plants (leaves and stems, pollens). Footage was subsequently shot, inspired by choreographies based on sculptures found in archaeological museums. On this topic, Hera speaks of the “mezzoscopic” dimension of his project, which brings together the microscopic and macroscopic in relation to Aztec divinities such as Ixtlilton, Mayawel, Tezkatlipoka, Tlalok and Kowatlikue (transcribed in compliance with the Aztec language). References to these divinities structure the various “chapters” of the artist’s work. […]
In conclusion, much like the tattoo shown in the Tlalok sequence, one might hazard the idea (albeit briefly, seeing as there is so much more to say) that “language is a skin” (Jacques Lacan); that Vir Andres Hera’s world activates this language through temporal collision; or that his position as a hybrid and diverse artist of the 21st century probably makes him part of the world of cosmopolitics (Isabelle Stengers), more so than of Kircher’s cosmology.”
Excerpt from Saisir la peau du monde, Chantal Pontbriand, 2020
Translated by Lucy Pons, 2022