I realize how some monuments have interrupted colonization over the years. Many monuments emphasize a social paradigm in which we have all believed because of what we were taught in school.
This time, I reflected deeply on the monument of Christopher Columbus, made by Guillermo Cardenas, which is located just one block from my house. The monument is located on the main avenue, a place full of life with activities for families, restaurants, and shops. I wonder why this monument occupies such a special place even though the arrival of the Spanish in America meant bad news for Indigenous peoples.
The diseases brought from the Old Continent, the violence used to occupy territories and look for hidden treasures, and the abuse of them through forced labor, being treated as slaves, harmed the Indigenous population. Spanish cities replaced the larger Indigenous centers (located in what is now Cuzco, Peru, and Mexico City), and those who did not voluntarily surrender to the new power were killed or disappeared.
These tangible instances help us to remember and create a personal relationship with our history and cultural identity, and with social justice, but having a tangible historical object with which we can connect is not the same as learning history. I am left with the following reflection when talking about historical monuments and their difference from real history: What matters more? The cult of people? Or the events of the past?
Returning to the Baptismal Font which is the focus of this inquiry, my ancestors were baptized in this font with holy water, the symbol of purity. The relationship of the human being with water goes beyond the survival of the body, dignity, and justice. It is spiritual. Water does not know or identify with any race, culture, ethnicity, or religion; it is in the thought systems of all civilizations.
A principle common to all of them is the contemplation of water as an element linked to life and union with the world. I could hear the sound of the water since the great silence that was around allowed me to feel the connection between the place and myself. In my art, you can see a fish made by myself with small pieces of colored paper, which represents the symbol of baptism since fish come from the water.
The Baptismal Font seems to function as an ultimate symbol of colonization, as Indigenous people participated in its creation in representing the settler colonial religion. The fish also seems to bring life to the font, highlighting the Indigenous interconnectedness with land. The fish seems to disrupt the anthropocentric vision of colonial conquest and exploitation of Indigenous people and lands.