From April 23, 2020, La cabeza mató a todos (2014), a film by Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, available online during the program Windows (18 rue du Château).

Please scroll down for the film.

We presented the film La cabeza mató a todos (The Head Killed Everyone) as part of the group exhibition Le jour des esprits est notre nuit, which I curated with Catalina Lozano in 2019. The artists experimented with alternative practices and narratives in which the secular division between visible and invisible faded away, leaving room for a fluidity between the different levels of reality systematically separated by modernity.

“In La cabeza mató a todos (The Head Killed Everyone), Beatriz Santiago Muñoz visually describes a spell, the instructions to destroy the machinery of war. The mechanisms of production and reproduction of a moving image are embedded in the logic of the piece in which we hear a voice, that of Mapenzi Chibale Nonó, although we don’t know whether it’s the cat speaking or Mapenzi speaking through the cat. Filmmaker Maya Deren had no choice but to recognise her failure at making a film about vodou “dance” in Haiti. She realised that far from a dance, in such a ritual much more complex things were being mobilised through movement, and that the film camera was helpless at capturing them. She wrote a book instead. Santiago Muñoz seems to pick up from there and make the camera part of the spell’s functioning and representability,” wrote Catalina.

What role does the camera play in this ritual? What kind of alliances does it make with the cat, with Mapenzi Chibale Nonó, with plants, music, insects, speech? How does it transform perception, by working beyond that which is seen?

Ritual, says Beatriz, also shares with art the possibility of multiple positions from which to perceive the experience. In ritual, this multiplicity is evident. But the experience of art has been turned so violently toward the experience of the spectator that we seldom talk about the aspects of artistic practice that are perceived from other positions. (...) When we look at the practice of art from the lens of ritual, we can open art to positions beyond that of the spectator. What about the transformation of the subject, the poiesis, the hyper-sensory states that allow leaps of thought? In ritual, one can be a lucid expert, a visionary madman, a child, a master of objects and form, or a person possessed. (...) If, for example, we talk about film as ritual, about the camera as a ritual object, about the time and space of making film as the time and space of ritual, and about the processes of art as processes that transform perception and consciousness, just as ritual does, where do we redirect our attention?*

Elfi Turpin

* Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, “La cabeza mató a todos,” in A Universe of Fragile Mirrors (Miami: Pérez Art Museum, 2016), p. 125.


La cabeza mató a todos (2014)—Beatriz Santiago Muñoz—VSTEN