MEXICO CITY — (LATINX NEWSWIRE) — As an “artistic happening”, Sebastian Arrechedera and Yosu Arangüena, Mexican artists, described the action of infiltrating 50 hacked audio guides of the Ethnographic Museum “Welt,” in Vienna, Austria. The objective of this undercover mission is to recover the headdress of the Aztec emperor, Moctezuma, assassinated in 1520 by the Spanish conqueror, Hernán Cortés.
As recorded on video, Arrechedera and Arangüena traveled to Vienna and, with the support of other activists, visited the museum where they furtively exchanged the original audio guides that the institution rents to their guests for what they call “Audio guides of Truth.”
“We believe that the Welt Museum is interested in keeping the headdress in Vienna because they exhibit it as the main attraction for visitors. In addition, today, it is valued at 50 million dollars. But we also saw first-hand that most of the people in Austria that we’ve met, when they heard our side of the story, understood that the piece should return to Mexico,” the perpetrators said.
Xokonoschtletl Gómora, an indigenous dancer and activist, who has been advocating for 40 years to try that the feather crown returns to Mexico, is one of the voices of the new message recorded on the infiltrated audio guides –available in English, Spanish, and German. For eight minutes, the activist explains that the piece “carries the strength, power, and wisdom of the sovereign Moctezuma Xocoyotzin and that it must return to where it belongs.” He adds that it is also not a headdress, but a royal crown and that its spiritual value is equivalent to the Pope’s miter. He finally accuses the Europeans of looting the historical heritage that is exhibited in various museums on that continent.
After this “undercover mission”, a group of Austrian legislators, led by deputy Petra Bayr –that met with and meeting with Arrechedera and Arangüena–, took on the task of requesting their federal government to verify whether technological advances would allow the safe transportation of the Crown of Moctezuma to Mexico.
In 2020, the Mexican government was denied a request to send the piece to the country as a “loan” as part of the 2021 celebration of the 500th anniversary of the fall of Tenochtitlan. Austria authorities argued that the headdress, made of feathers, could be damaged due to the trip.
“That is why our request is that an independent commission from the museum, made up of scientists and engineers specializing in the transportation of delicate pieces, and who are totally objective, be the one to carry out the evaluation and propose a viable solution to achieve it,” the artists explained.
Regarding the Austrian Governementdenial, Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said to the press this month: “As usually happens in everything that has to do with art, culture, they have not only looted the peoples in terms of their natural resources, their material wealth. But also, its artistic cultural heritage.”
For her part, Bayr recently confirmed that Moctezuma’s crown will not travel to Mexico since “it can be used with political and electoral overtones,” Arrechedera reported.
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