Sjoerd Martens: My Neighbor has Petroglyphs in her Backyard

Spread over five years, artist Sjoerd Martens (1993, Nijmegen) studied the petroglyphs, rock drawings, made on Aruba around the year 1000 by the Caquetio, the indigenous people who were among the earliest inhabitants of the Caribbean island. Where petroglyphs are now, there used to be presumably sacred sites. Today, petroglyphs are often found in the patios of houses. Here, petroglyphs are combined with contemporary graffiti and love messages. They are in places where no one cares about them. ‘In the most tragic cases, they are in danger of being destroyed,’ says Martens. That is why he decided to immortalize this heritage for future generations. Thus was born his enigmatic photorealistic collages.

Martens shows the petroglyphs both in their present context – as a bizarre document – and in a visualization of the future. The result is a colorful, visually sparkling, almost magical book that the artist hopes will contribute to raising awareness about and thus preserving, these extraordinary remnants of Aruba’s cultural heritage.

Accompanied with texts in Papiamento and English by Billy Zhao, performance curator and writer at Marina Abramovic Institute, poetry by Aruban performance artist Natusha Croes and a scientific in-depth by Harold Kelly, archaeologist at National Archaeological Museum Aruba.