Heliographies of Memory

Heliographies of Memory is a long-term project that explores diverse social and historical relations that define specific places and, at the same time, resignify the sites within contemporary imaginaries, such as displaced memories encrypted in the flow and transit, a Non-place.

Heliographies of Memory consist in a series of photographs that capture the calligraphic gesture, the very moment where the action of inscription is taking place. But this is not usual calligraphy writing. The texts are written with light, so the words disappear as soon as they were suggested by the moves of the calligrapher, invisible to the simple eye, they just can be captured by a process of long-exposure photography, that reveal what happened, even though no one could see it. Through these ephemeral interventions with light calligraphy, we capture the invisible, acting on air, using as locations iconic places: historic sites, public plazas, monuments, bulwarks, abandoned places become re-signification spaces.

We started working in Mexico, in cities that have had a leading role in the great turning points of our national history. Now, the project has extended through Europe, exploring monuments, landmarks or abandoned places, related to important events that have an impact, not just in local history, but in the history of humanity. We work right in those small spaces of a locality that tell us about issues of global interest.

The decision whether to make a trip to Europe, was based in our interest to investigate spaces that exemplify specially well the palimpsest, layers of history. In Germany, I’m particularly interested in places that have a connection with the situation after the fall of the Berlin Wall: abandoned spaces, small empty communities like Halle, but also the spaces of social reconstruction, places that have been rebuilt after the war, the Frauenkirche in Dresden is an example.

This mural is a tribute to ancient wisdom, indigenous cosmogony and ancient thinking and refers directly to the prehispanic rain god Tlaloc, represented by those two great circles made using calligraphy and the geometric elements that accompany them.

For Said Dokins there is a very strong relationship in the representation of the circle in multiple ancient cultures, he began performing these circular representations when he was a child studying Aikido and discovered in a book about Zen Buddhism, the practice of Ensō (円相), a  way to cleansing the mind to prepare it for creation, is a hand-drawn circle made in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes with a Japanese brush, is one of the most typical subjects of Japanese calligraphy. In both pre-hispanic and Japanese culture the circle symbolizes the universe and the void, zero, flow and constant energy.

This work creates a relationship between geometry and text as a poetic knowledge. In one hand, Monkey Bird with their Stencils, alludes to the ancient ‘platonic solids’ and creates a series of unfinished characters like ‘guardians of knowledge’. In other hand, Said Dokins, use his own calligraphy style and medieval letters to talk about the idea of eternal return, inscribing texts that refer to the possibilities and limitations of philosophy and the importance of the text as a legacy of the consciousness through time. These reminiscences of the old antique prints of Wenzel Jamnitzer, Renaissance statuary and medieval forms of calligraphy and the appearance of unfinished buildings or in ruins, creates several reflections about our human condition, where the awareness and knowledge are in a state of permanent construction.

Some of the texts that can be read on the wall are fragments of the philosopher Walter Benjamin:

¨Knowledge comes only in lightning flashes. The text is the long roll of thunder that follows¨

¨Like ultraviolet rays memory shows to each man in the book of life a script that invisibly and prophetically glosses the text¨

Check out the video here: https://vimeo.com/197081821

For Said Dokins calligraphy and graffiti are intermediate practices of inscription and trace, of twisting symbolic orders and of political enunciation. Dokins lives and works in Mexico City. His cultural practice takes on contemporary art production, research and cultural management. He has put on curatorial projects related to urban arts and a number of political issues happening in his country. Among other awards, is the winner of the Iberoamerican Contemporary Art Creation Prize, Cortes de Cadiz, Juan Luis Vasallo 2015 in Cadiz, Spain. His work as an artist has been shown nationally and internationally in countries as Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, United Kingdom, Argentina, Chile, Brasil, El Salvador, Peru and others. It takes up the economy of medieval calligraphy, the energy and expressiveness of japanese calligraphy, besides creating a poetic based on pre-phonetic writing. For Dokins every experience is a trace, a psychic impression that creates a texture in our symbolic universe. In that sense, calligraphy and graffiti aren’t just on paper and ink, on the walls and spray, but on every event of our existence.




San Miguel de Allende, México:


Google Tilt Brush in France:



Nocturno. México:


Installation art:


Thanks to @Claudia de la Garza