Enrique Chagoya. El Regreso del Caníbal Macrobiótico [The Return of the Macrobiotic Cannibal]. (Boulder: Bud Shark, 1998). Color lithograph, woodcut, and chine colle. Limited edition: 30 copies.

Codices. My codex books are based on the idea that history is told by those who win wars. Previous historic accounts are erased, destroyed or buried in oblivion. A new official story is invented in order to justify the new reality of events. Cultures are transformed and often completely destroyed by conquering ones. The world is endlessly re-mapped and re-named, with new rules and rulers in recurrent holocausts. New "world orders" come and go in the middle of ideological frenzy. The 20th century has been perhaps the most violent in the world's history. Human kind is in constant war with itself, perfectly capable of total destruction. This is the raw material for my art.

I depart from the conquest of the Americas - which started in the late 15th century - and the destruction of the written history of ancient cultures in meso-America. Only about 22 pre-Columbian books survived the fire set by the European priests and soldiers on all libraries found during the conquest war. Meso-America was one of the few places in the world in which written language was developed. It was the only geographic area in the continent with libraries like the one in the Aztec kingdom of Texcoco created by the king/poet Netzahualcoyotl. That library was described by indigenous historians as the largest ever created in the ancient world, with books full of historical, medical, astronomical and religious information that shaped the ancient world. Almost all is permanently lost, not only the books but also the written language.

Since from this perspective history is an ideological construction, I decided to invent my own account of the many possible stories - from Cortez to the border patrol - in my own visual language. I mix pre-Columbian mythology with Catholic icons, American comics and images of ethnic stereotypes. My codex books are made with the same bark paper (amate) used in the ancient codex books.

—Enrique Chagoya