The Mountain I am,
the air I am
the spirit that flows in all things I am
I surround you
– Matilde, the artist’s elder
The Mountain I am, Urku ñuka kani contains two elements, a composite video and a large-scale handmade ceramic sound instrument. The video documents Koyoltzintli Miranda-Rivadeneira performing a series of rituals in which she introduces herself to the landscape of Ulster County, New York, where she lived in quarantine over the past year. Miranda-Rivadeneira enacts alli kawsay, a Kichwa word for balanced living with the earth, something learned from years of watching her mamita enter a new landscape and salute. This act of harmonizing with the landscape becomes a form of “languaging,” using Walter Mignolo’s term, a disruptive space between being and belonging, thinking and writing. Drawing on the air or on the ground, in an impermanent mark made with stones, mud, ice and branches, these simple iconographies echo ancestral pictographs that are universal, ancient, and urgent. These videos aim to address our intersectionality with the earth, the responsibility to acknowledge the first stewards of this land and the natural environment.
The ceramic trumpet is part of a series of instruments Miranda-Rivadeneira has been creating based on pre-Columbian instruments, and through x-rays and other documentation, captures the exact hertz, or audio frequency, of these ancient wind instruments. The vessel is adorned with symbols of Central and South American flora and fauna—the palm, cacao, and ceiba—celebrating the diversity of nature and recognizing their fragility. Sounds from this instrument and others created by Miranda-Rivadeneira are layered in the video, starting with the first sound heard, a heart beat. She notes, “Imperial temporality interrupted the passing of many ancestral oral rituals yet ritual never ceases to exist. The sounds of these instruments access a cosmology that is in deep relation to the language of nature where we can penetrate into a dialogue across time with our ancestors and the ancestors of this land.”