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In his installation, François Bucher follows the explorations of Daniel Ruzo on the Marcahuasi plateau in Peru. In the 1950s the Peruvian cryptologist and anthropologist discovered an ancient park of stone monuments on this Andean plateau, which he dated to around 10,000 years ago. The huge blocks of natural rock sculpted in a distinctive technique display their anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and mythological shapes only when the rays of the sun shine on them at specific times and seasons of the year. Bucher recorded the account of custodian Severiano Olivares during a visit to the plateau. The installation has been shown in 2012 at the House of World Cultures (HKW) in Berlin, Germany. Part of it is currently on view in the Pavilion of the Istituto Italo-Latinoamericano (IILA) at the 55th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale 2013.
"We did not discover Marcahuasi... what we did discover was the sculptural trace of artists from the '4th humanity'. Facing the kind of people who love their own personalities and who see themselves as authors of their small individual existence, we must proclaim that neither are we the discoverers of the sculptures... it is merely time which has discovered these sculptures: we are only an antennae of our times. Everything that is hidden will be revealed, all on its own, in the last 180 years of our '5th humanity': from 1957 to 2137."
The Fantastic History of a Discovery: The Stone Temples of a Vanished People. Daniel Ruzo
Daniel Ruzo was a man, as sincerely an esoteric as you may find one. His book, The Fantastic History of a Discovery: The Stone Temples of a Vanished People tells of a decade-long adventure in the Marcahuasi Plateau, Peru, which has at its focal point a photographic camera. Actually, it is not only a decade-long experience with a camera, it is a real photo graphic experience, which goes well beyond the camera; it is an adventure, in the photo graphic plateau, a plateau which isn't waiting to be pnotographed in order to be a picture since it is already photo graphic... It only needs the human eye as a fulcrum, and then its figuration is turned on. Following Ruzo's cue one has to imagine the pre-cataclysmic giants (or activated humans) of a 4th humanity as they discover the forms that are hidden in the boulders standing in the Marcahuasi Plateau... and work on these boulders to reveal what is already there. The procedure that Ruzo imagines is akin to drawing the image of a horse from the clouds in the sunset, as a child would do. The whole Plateau is a sculpture park which one may visit with its keeper - Severiano Olivares.
Severiano has memorized the information about each sculpture: where the visitor needs to stand, and at what time of the day and of the year is the optimal time to perceive it. He will also state who discovered each form and in what year; most of the forms were discovered by Ruzo and by Severiano's father - his assistant - throughout the 1950's, but it is only Severiano who has had the lucid dreams and visions about the secret underground city where the human seed was saved, as suggested in Noah's Ark biblical legend and hundreds of other legends throughout the world. The sculptures are thus believed to be pointers to the entrance of the city in the hollow mountain.
The crucial point in what concerns this work is that the figurative game of these live stone photo graphs is played somewhere between the rock and the sun and the axis of the earth, with its large and small cycles, solstices, equinoxes and their 27000 year precession period. Ideologically, before looking at what form appears on the rocks, the very manner of the figuration is what is active in making the essence of harmony visible. Human, mountain, sun and galaxy are equal collaborators, the work is not signed (the human is in synch with the frequency of the world, un-divorced). Sacred and ecological activism are encompassed here, the signs of a large convergence are at play.
François Bucher's installation The Second and a Half Dimension (an Expedition to the Photographic Plateau) is a first approach to the work of Daniel Ruzo. The installation holds as its centerpiece, one particular photograph and its negative, taken from the archive of Daniel Ruzo in Lima. The discovery of this double image was considered irrefutable proof of his thesis by the Peruvian investigator:
"The photographic study showed the lying cadaver of an old man, being cared for by two women. Another character appeared, perhaps his successor. Infrared photography helped us discover a soldier on guard next to the monument, and also the two dogs of the deceased. Photographs taken at different angles and under different light reproduced, with some clarity, four symbolic animals next to the group, representing the four elements. Up until this point, everything was confined to the natural limits of a photograph. ...
In 1954, while we were preparing our second conference about the culture of Marcahuasi that we believed to be prehistoric, and which we had named 'Masma Culture', an inexplicable event took place that took the discovery further and allowed us to label it as fantastic...
We needed to test a slide projector so we chose at random strip offilm consisting of thirty-six photographs, among the hundreds at hand. By chance we projected the funerary monument, and immediately noticed a wonderful transformation of the image. In place of the old man's dying head there was another face, that of a young fierce looking man, a lock of hair covering his forehead. One could even see his raised fist, challenging whomever.
We could not get over our amazement. We projected other negative slides, thinking that other photographs would entail the same double image. Although their study allowed for the discovery ofpreviously invisible figures, we never again found two different sculptures made from the same surface of a rock. We never found a double figure made to exist as positive and as negative, in the same image.
Twenty years have passed and we are still in awe. Even with all the advancements in technique and our deeper knowledge of photography, the most gifted sculptor wouldn't be able to make cuts so precise in their simplicity as to produce this: cuts that could still allow for such a 'miracle ' to be discovered by 'chance ' in a photo, after ten thousand years."
Alongside photos, documents, and magazines from Ruzo's archive, dating back to the 1950's the installation comprises a video where Severiano Olivares acts as a tour guide to the plateau's sculpture park, as well as a series of drawings where the technique that Ruzo had invented to reveal the shape perceived in the rocks, is used by the artist to reveal forms perceived in the clouds instead.
The Second and a Half Dimension -
An Expedition to the Photographic Plateau
Shown in 2012 at the House of World Cultures (HKW) in Berlin, Germany.
Part of it is on view in the Pavilion of the Istituto Italo-Latinoamericano (IILA) at the 55th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, 1 June - 24 November 2013
Internat. Architecture Exhibition, 22 May - 21 November 2021. Curator: Hashim Sarkis.
59th International Art Exhibition, 23 April - 27 November 2022. Artistic Director: Cecilia Alemani.