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XIBALBA-The Unseen World
The Underworld of the Maya, the place of awe

Sound installation: Gerhard Junker

March 26 - April 7, 1999

Palm house of Schönbrunn Castle
A-1130 Vienna

Paintings in oil and oil-based crayon on translucent materials are directly exposed to the natural environment that the palm house simulates. The visitor is confronted with a sensual experience structured by a contemporary artistic interpretation of a 1000-year-old pictorial language. The Maya were a Stone Age people: the wheel was still unknown, yet they possessed an uncanny knowledge of astronomy and still not fully deciphered glyphs. In their view, the world consisted of 13 heavens and 9 underworlds, the latter being inhabited and characterized by special humans, animals and hybrid creatures. XIBALBA, the place of awe, was always rooted in the real threats of the rainforest and in the link to the mystical future. Their attitude towards death was shifted to a different level of consciousness, yet remained entwined with fear and uncertainty. The painter Sylvie Proidl participated in an archeological study in Yaxha, Guatemala, in January 1998. Her work in the rainforest inspired her to capture the strong meditative power of this site in the series of paintings presented here.




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