Belkis Ayón Manso(Havana, 1967-1999)

Belkis Ayón is the unusual case of a woman who devoted her brief but intense artistic career to recreating the cultural and spiritual heritage of a religious group of African origin, known in Cuba as the Abakuá Secret Society, which hasthe peculiarity of being an all-male society. Despite the fact that it does not admit any woman as a member, the main protagonist of the mythology and rituals of the society was a female named Sikán.

Nuestro Deber (Our Duty

The twins Aberiñán and Aberisún seem to be represented in Nuestro Deber, 1993, in the foreground, one holding in his hands the head of the sacrificed goat, and in the other the head of Sikán, since they are at present (especially Aberiñán) responsible for the sacrifice of the male goat representing her in the ritual. In the background, the white figure would represent Sikán’s own spirit. In this ceremony of killing the male goat, Aberiñán always approaches the place of the sacrifice dancing and refuses to fulfil his mandate, comes closer, makes a first attempt and withdraws horrified, embarrassed, until finally he is forced by the drum of Nkríkamo to commit murder. Perhaps in this work Belkis reflected a plea of pardon on behalf of those that have carried out the sacrifice, not only of a woman, but of the first consecrated member of that secret fraternity. There is in no hate in this action the executioners seem to be saying, but simply the discharge of a duty. However, did Belkis really accept this remote excuse?

Year: 1998
Technique: Collography on heavy paper
Size: 94 x 68 cm

Theme: gender religion ritual