Edgar Calel
Ni Musmut (It's Breezing)

Bergen Kunsthall is proud to present an extensive exhibition by artist Edgar Calel, his first solo presentation in Europe. Working in a variety of media, Calel celebrates the traditions and spirituality of his Mayan Kaqchikel heritage in Comalapa, Guatemala. His works are often grounded in attentive relationships with the earth and its elements, featuring animal-vegetal motifs and playfully challenging Western conventions and perspectives of permanence. The works in the exhibition Ni Musmut (It’s breezing), made specifically for the spaces of Bergen Kunsthall, continue Calel’s engagement with the Mayan Kaqchikel cosmovision and the connections of its concepts and practices to other cultural contexts. The artist’s use of the Kaqchikel language and reflexivity of his presence in the places he travels belong to a practice that is celebratory of the daily role of spirituality among his people and vigilant of daily threats of exclusion and cultural erasure.

At the centre of his exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall is a large-scale installation of soil, rock and fire that connects the essential elements of a site for jun k’obomanik, or giving thanks through offering rituals. Within this microcosm of a geological and agricultural landscape, we find a series of hanging stones and a group of 76 ceramic pots, filled with water, flower petals and accompanied by wooden sticks, titled Oyonik (The Calling) that allude to traditional cultural practices, but also open up to new readings in a changed context. The works are presented both as material and ritual – the artist and the team of Bergen Kunsthall will light candles under the rocks and take care of the altar-like pots each day upon opening the exhibition space. Calel’s works require entrusting devotional forms to an institution, and the artist views such collaboration as a means of opening these traditions while remaining in dialogue with ancestral practitioners. At the same time, the works challenge established notions of a work and its ownership and highlight the artistic contributions Calel’s community make to contemporary notions of ritual, performativity and ecological thinking.

A new wall-scale embroidery work shows the home of Calel’s family, seen from above. The work, made in collaboration with members of his family, creates a direct connection between the home – as a place for gathering and shared rituals – and the exhibition spaces, which are also spaces for social interaction and reflection. A selection of artworks by Calel’s artistic community and his family are presented in one of the gallery spaces, with a common theme of the garden, including intricate paintings of flowers and plants by his mother.

Edgar Calel (born in Chi Xot – San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala, 1987) is considered a leading voice of institutional critique among a broad generation of Latin American artists. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Arte Rafael Rodríguez Padilla. In 2023, his first institutional solo show, B’alab’äj (Jaguar Stone), was shown at the SculptureCenter, New York City. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including Choreographies of the Impossible, 35th São Paulo Biennial, São Paulo, Brazil (2023); uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things, 12th Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool (2023); Soft and Weak Like Water, 14th Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju (2023); Is It Morning for You Yet?, 58th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2022); The Crack Begins Within, 11th Berlin Biennial, Berlin (2020). His works are part of the permanent collections of Rijkscollectie – National Collection of the Netherlands; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, USA; Tate, UK; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; the National Gallery of Canada, Ontario; Fundación TEOR/ética, San José, Costa Rica; MADC Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, San José, Costa Rica; and Kadist, San Francisco.