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WOLVES AND DEERMarcos Castro

Marcos Castro stands in front of the wall. There’s an open laptop at his feet with a photo of a moth on the screen. On the wall, a few strokes suggest a feline of some sort. Marcos takes the brush and with the gesture of a Chinese calligrapher, draws one, two, three moths on the wall. He knows the animals he paints so well that he can trace their movements and gestures by heart.  

We accompanied Marcos Castro to an abandoned house about to be demolished in the Juarez neighborhood, where he was working on an installation and a few murals on the cracked walls. He told us about the project for the house and then sat on the floor and told us about his stay in Canada, his passion for animals and his relationship with nature.

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Límulus: How do think humans – especially urban ones – relate to nature?

Marcos Castro: Humans are part of nature. We’re animals, which means we have a completely direct relationship with it. I mean we’re distant and urbanized because we have the ability to build things and shelter ourselves from it. That’s the tendency, to distance ourselves from nature. But we’re a part of it.

L: How did your interest in representing animals come about?

MC: I’ve been using them for years to talk about myself, assigning them similar roles – in an archetypal manner – of parts of my personality. Of the human personality, in a way. It helps me to portray clear conditions. Like wolves and deer, for example, which are hunter and pray. In that case, they represent the opposites. It’s something that I work with a lot. I speak of humans based on nature.

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L: How do you choose the species you represent? Do your representations come out of live models? 

MC: A few years ago, sometime in the year 2000, I lived in Canada for a while.

It was an experience that had a great influence on me, and I had friends that drew nature a lot. So I was in contact with animals that I identified myself with, like bears, wolves, and deer. They were easily reachable. When I came back to Mexico, with a bit of distance, I made them mine somehow.

L: What do you seek to portray through them? Are animals symbols in your work? Do they carry a message as they do in fables and myths?

MC: Yes, absolutely. I always begin from within. And yes, in the end, they are myths. It has a poetic sense at times. But at the end of the day, I’m talking about myself and people in general. People identify with it a lot because they are universal messages.

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L: Where do these interpretations and associations come from? How do you create these stories?

MC: I read a lot of Viking mythology and a lot of stories on Mexico as well. In the Huichila cosmology, for example, the deer is a very strong element. I lived in the desert for a few months making a movie and I was in close contact with the culture and with a marakame (shaman). So I mix a bit of different cultures, combine them, modify them and make them my own.

L: How do you link the nature you represent with an exhibition space like a gallery or a museum in the city?

MC: A lot of them are spaces made to exhibit. They’re white surfaces that I just get to and express an idea. What interests me are places like this house, places that have a history; when I enter the space, I try to understand it and see what it proposes and from there, I think of what I’m going to do in it. It all depends on the place I work in.

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L: You said you lived in Canada and in the desert, how often are you in contact with nature and on what level?

MC: Not very much really. I’m a city animal. I enjoy it a lot. I have a hard time opening up and getting out of this, out of these confined spaces. I don’t do it too often. But I have a daughter and it is because of her that I try to go out more.

L: Do you have pets? What is your opinion on an animal that belongs to an urban context?

MC: I don’t have pets. I had one at some point in my life. There are city animals. I have a lot of ideas that go hand in hand with the influences I have from science fiction and apocalyptic situations, like: what would happen if humans stopped existing? What would be the animals’ interaction with the public monuments based on animals made by humans? I wonder, for example, what the coyotes of Coyoacan would say. Would they see the monument as deities? I think about those things a lot.

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L: If you had to choose your Nahual (spirit), what would it be? What animal?

MC: A bear, I think. I identify with it. I went out with a girl who used to call me bear and I would call her bird. I also identify with it on a physical level. I like them for various reasons. They’re solitary animals. I love them.

L: What animal do you have tattooed on your arm?

MC: A raven. I did a few scenes of swallows and ravens a while back; with doves and raves. An animal of darkness with another one of light. Once again, it was this contrasting element. Animals that sometimes clash and transform themselves. I was in a dark place when I got it done. It’s a king raven with the word “resist.”

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