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Communication

The last theme or section is entitled “ Communication” and displays other tools of knowledge, including those produced by the societies of America themselves. It is divided into three parts: “The Origins of Written Communication,” “Writing and Symbolic Communication” and “The Languages of America and Spanish.” The room opens with the label “Communication Systems. Pictorial symbols, hieroglyphic writing, syllabic writing, music and dance and icono- graphic symbols” and closes with “Spanish” and “Indigenous Languages.” The different systems of communication in the Americas appear on both sides of the room. In the middle of the room, the famous Madrid Codex or Troano Codex is on display. One of the four surviving Mayan codices, it dates back to the fourteenth century and was supposedly brought to Spain by Hernan Cortes himself. Writing is the standard that guides the exhibit in this room and represents the criterion used to describe other forms of communication. The distance between oral expression and writing will provide further surprises.

At the end of the exhibit, the section corresponding to “Indigenous Languages” and “Spanish,” there are two separate areas of very different sizes. The first, which corresponds to native languages, is so small that only one visitor can enter at a time. A small screen shows a series of members of different indigenous groups (Quechua, Guarani, Aymara, Maya, Pueblo, Navajo and Nahuatl), all in traditional dress, speaking about their respective myths of creation in their native languages. The projection of these images is framed on an old scroll that displays a handmade map. In the second space, the one dedicated to the common language, that is, “Spanish,” “renowned figured of Hispanic literature [Carlos Fuentes, Augusto Roa Bastos, Julio Cortazar, Pablo Neruda, Uslar Pietri, Miguel Angel Asturias, Nicolas Guillen, Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel Garcia Marquez] wrote of the importance of the Spanish language,” as the cohesive and definitive element of what could be called Hispanic culture or civilization. This video offers a voice-over of the most well-known male Spanish language authors (female authors are notoriously absent), with reference to the advantages of a common tongue. The accompanying images are rapid and colorful, characteristic of any large city of the Americas. A few years ago, the room showing the documentary on indigenous languages closed, and this video was moved to the main room, which also shows the video about the Spanish language. Later, both rooms were closed, and now, a series of large pictures ends of the exhibition, with portraits on “scenes of mestizaje.”

 
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