Metropolink FestivalMural with Historical Apocalyptic Visions and Current Discussions

2 August 2022

Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies at Heidelberg University invites Mexican street artist to Metropolink Festival

In the context of the Metropolink Festival, a new mural – designed by Mexican street artist Saner – is currently being painted on the gymnasium wall of the Heidelberg Julius Springer School. The outline for the painting shows eight Tetzáhuitl – omens for the end of the world from precolonial cultures in the territory of present-day Mexico − which Saner combines with modern perspectives in his work. The idea for this action came from the research project of the art historian and anthropologist Prof. Dr Adolfo Mantilla Osornio, a visiting scholar at the Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies at Heidelberg University. The painting will be inaugurated on 6 August 2022 at a public event. Parallel to the creative process, visitors can view an exhibition featuring the painting’s individual motifs.

Wandgemälde Metropolink

Interchange with the public and with artists plays an important role in the research of the Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies (CAPAS). CAPAS director Prof. Dr Robert Folger underlines that art is of twofold relevance, since it both expresses and forms cultural ideas on the end of worlds. “That can combine many different regional, historical and scholarly perspectives, as is shown in Saner’s work.”

The mural “Post-apocalyptic Visions of the 12th book” is based on a narrative about the destruction of societies, drawn from a mid-16th century text handed down in the indigenous Nahuatl language. It describes eight omens for the end of the world heralding upheavals in the lives of individuals and the community. Originally shaped by the indigenous perspective, the omens referred to in the painting are, however, the product of a transcultural vision that also resonates with apocalyptic ideas in Europe. Furthermore, the illustrator, graphic designer and street artist Saner, whose real name is Edgar Flores, weaves motifs of current social and political discussion into his mural in order to enable a contemporary access to the worldviews, myths and narratives of the historical text.

Wandgemälde Metropolink

The idea of cooperating with the Mexican artist came from Prof. Mantilla Osornio. As a visiting scholar at CAPAS he studies apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic representations in the art of Mexico, from the 16th century to the present. An art historian and anthropologist, who has been the academic director of the Mexico Academy of Art since 2017, he also curated the exhibition with individual motifs from the mural with the relevant historical and scholarly background notes, which can be seen on the Festival grounds in Patrick Henry Village. The completed mural on the gymnasium wall at the Julius Springer School will be inaugurated on 6 August. The general public is warmly invited; it begins at 6pm. Short introductions will be given by artist Saner, as well as Adolfo Mantilla, as the curator, Robert Folger, CAPAS director, and Pascal Baumgärtner, curator of the Metropolink Festival.

The work of the Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies at Heidelberg University focuses on how disasters and apocalyptic scenarios impact on societies, individuals and environments. The aim is to give a nuanced description of past and present systemic upheavals, differentiating and distinguishing them from one another, on the basis of a transdisciplinary research approach. To that effect, around ten international visiting scholars from different disciplines come to work at CAPAS every year. The centre is funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

For the mural project, CAPAS is cooperating with Metropolink, Festival for urban art, that creates new perspectives on the city and beyond. Artistic interventions in the public space open up opportunities to regain these places for the community, as has happened since 2018 with Patrick Henry Village (PHV), a former residential area of the United States army in Heidelberg. Art and urbanity form the thematic core of Metropolink, that – with close cooperation on topics of culture and modern urban development – plays a central role in the development of PHV as a new, 16th district of Heidelberg. The Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies is participating in this year’s festival programme with various other events, e.g. an open-air film series and panel discussions with the CAPAS fellows.