Clarissa Tossin is a visual artist who uses video, installation, sculpture, and collaborative research to engage with suppressed counter-narratives implicit in the built environment. Her upcoming film, Mojo’q che b’ixan ri ixkanulab’ / Antes de que los Volcanes Canten / Before the Volcanoes Sing, takes a sonic approach to the articulation of indigenous cultural motifs borrowed by Western architects in the 1920s Mayan Revival style, by utilizing 3D scanned and printed replicas of Maya wind instruments from pre-Columbian collections held in US and Guatemalan museums. This multilayered project attempts to decolonize Mayan Revival architecture, reclaiming its connection to lineages beyond the modernist tradition. The Mayan iconography—co-opted, transformed, and re-inscribed in modern American architecture—is animated in a kind of healing ritual, opening up an alternate space for these structures to live in the present in continuity with the cultural hybridity of contemporary Mayan communities in Los Angeles.
Tossin’s work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum, New York; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; the Queens Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit; the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach; the 12th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; La Kunsthalle Mulhouse, France; the Center for Contemporary Art, Israel; and SESC Pompéia, Brazil. Her work is housed in several public collections, including the Whitney Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Fundação Inhotim and the Harvard Art Museums. She’s the recipient of a Graham Foundation Grant (2020); a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant (2019), an Artadia Los Angeles Award (2018), and the Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard University (2017-18), among others.