Novem by Claudia Jiménez Chagoya
2021 RISE Emerging Artist Program

  April 5, 2021 — November 17, 2021  | 3D Virtual Tour will be available May 17

Program Fee: FREE

Novem addresses the complexity of grieving Femicide cases. Femicide is the killing of women and girls because of their gender. The attitude of neglect from the authorities towards these murders deeply affects the grieving processes of the families of the victims, hindering their possibility of their overcoming the tragedy. 

Claudia Chagoya’s exhibition aims to provide a quiet environment for contemplation, and for grieving along with the bereaved Mexican families that have lost loved ones due to gender violence. 

From the Artist 

"Novem addresses the aftermath of Femicide in Mexico. Femicide is the killing of women because of their gender, in which outrageous acts of violence are visible. The term “feminicide” encompasses the imbalance of the gender power structures, and the corruption and neglect from the authorities surrounding these murders, manifesting in the thousands of women and girls being killed each year. This attitude of neglect deeply affects the grieving processes of the families of the victims, hindering their possibility of their overcoming the tragedy.

The disruption of grieving the processes is part of the aftermath of femicide, and I address it through textiles and materials rooted in my Mexican cultural background: rebozos crystallized with salt. The rebozo is a rectangular shawl associated with gender roles and to death practices. Salt is a purifying element present on the altars dedicated to departed loved ones during the celebrations of the Day of the Dead. Its use is linked to the belief that salt prevents the souls of the deceased from being “corrupted” when they visit the realm of the living.

Novem aims to provide a quiet environment for contemplation and for sharing the distress and anguish of grieving families in Mexico. Novem’s rebozos have adopted a skeletal appearance. The constant dripping of water and salt slowly reduced these embodied entities to bones. As an allegory for the journey to Mictlán[1], these “bodies” endure the passage of time, leaving only mementos behind: bones and hair preserved in salt." 

[1] The Aztec underworld. Mictlán or the place of the dead, was described as a damp and dark place where the bones of past generations are stored, and the souls wait for their yearly return to the realm of the living. The journey to Mictlán can be understood as a metaphor for decomposition, and consists of nine dreadful levels or regions, filled with terrible creatures and dangerous obstacles, such as raging rivers, clashing mountains, storms of knives, and icy winds. These regions not only pose challenges for the souls, the physical body is strained as well.

Learn more about the artist and join her Open Call for Community Collaboration here.

Artist Bio 

Claudia Chagoya (1991) is a Mexican interdisciplinary artist born in Zacatecas, Mexico, and based in Calgary, Canada. She holds an MFA degree from the University of Calgary, and a BFA from Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Her artistic practice explores topics related to gender violence and her socio-political background, through the use of materials rooted in Mexican culture tied to various rituals such as: rebozos, salt, copal and sawdust. Chagoya is currently the president of SpanicArts, a Calgary non-profit organization that gives support, creates connections, and facilitates resources for Hispanic artists or people interested in Hispanic culture. Her work has been exhibited in Mexico and in Canada. Also, she has been an artist in Residence at the Royal College of Art in London, UK, the Women’s Centre of Calgary, and by the end of 2020, Chagoya will be part of the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation Residency Program at cSPACE King Edward.​

The RISE Emerging Artist Program is generosuly supported by the RBC Foundation

This Program is supported by:

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