Ruins of a temple in front of trees

Edgar Calel © Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala City

Edgar Calel

Jun Juyu Juxuj / A Mountain of Drawings, 2024

When I was a child, I played with dirt in my backyard. Together with my brothers and neighbours, we made mountains out of dirt. In our imagination, we would transform into ants and climbed those little hills made with our hands. As time went by, our world expanded, and we could see the mountains surrounding Chi Xot (San Juan Comalapa), my home located in the highlands of Guatemala.

Our grandparents told us that some of those mountains were filled with water and others with fire. From then on, I was always curious to know what is inside the mountains and mounds. On my visit to the ancient Mayan city Takalik Abaj, I asked a local about the mounds located at the site. He told me that inside there are ancient Mayan pyramids with inscriptions of important dates. Some of them were partially dismantled and shipped to Western museums – including museums here in Berlin. 

Through this work, I want to invite people to climb and play with this pyramid covered with Mayan glyphs that represent the 20 Nahuales of the calendar and other indigenous images. According to Mayan cosmovision, the spirit and the material world coexist, and Nahuales determine each day’s energy. They symbolise the elements that govern life, such as water, air, fire, earth, seeds, animals, energies and thoughts of the ancestors. In a pyramid of drawings, while playing with them and with each other, we imagine, we repair and thus we can all win.

Edgar Calel

Interaction guide for an immersive and contemplative experience at the pyramid:

  1. Climb With Care
  2. Reach the Top Thoughtfully
  3. Embrace the Multifunctional Space
  4. Play with the Structure of the Monument
  5. Build and Rebuild
  6. Respect the Moment
  7. Safety First
  8. Leave No Trace


Edgar Calel is a multidisciplinary artist explores into diverse media to delve into the complexity of the indigenous experience, particularly through the lens of the Mayan Kaqchikel cosmovision. Drawing inspiration from spirituality, rituals, community practices and beliefs, Edgar’s work reflects the rich cultural heritage of Guatemala, where he resides.


Performative activation on 27 April with
Elsa Yolanda Calel, Julio Eduardo Calel, Pedro Lisandro Calel

Enrique Morales Larrando – Translation