Nefandus, 2013

Loathsome, 2013

Nefandus is a trilogy that investigates pre-Hispanic and colonial homoeroticism. Motivated by his interest in historical marginalisation and violence against collectives and communities, Carlos Motta has created three video essays documenting the forced imposition of European epistemological categories during and after the conquest of the Americas. The trilogy demonstrates that sexuality is a cultural construction with very specific origins based on moral and legal discourses, often not explicit, about what constitutes sin and crime. The three videos are: Nefandus, Shipwreck and The Defeated, all from 2013.

The work in the MACBA Collection, Nefandus, follows two men as they canoe down the Don Diego River in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in the Colombian Caribbean, surrounded by a ‘wild’ and beautiful landscape. One is indigenous, the other a Spanish-speaker, and they recount stories of abominable (nefandos, hence the title) sins and crimes, and acts of sodomy that took place in South America during the Spanish conquest. ‘The landscape does not reflect what it has witnessed. [...] We need instruments, documentation, signs’, says one of the two protagonists. Later, he explains: ‘This is a conquered river and an accomplice; its clear waters disguise scarred riverbeds where pre-Hispanic ethnic groups saw their bodies floating.’ Although it has been well documented that the Spanish conquerors used sex as a weapon of domination, what do we know about homoerotic traditions in the pre-Hispanic world? Transmitted via Catholic missions and propagated through wars during the conquest, how did Christian morality transform the indigenous peoples’ relationship to sex? Nefandus carefully observes the landscape, its movement and its sounds to obtain clues to stories that have been ignored and stigmatised in many historiographical accounts.

Technical details

Original title:
Registration number:
Motta, Carlos
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Audiovisual recording
Single-channel video, colour, sound, 13 min 07 s
Edition number:
Ed. 1/5 + 2 P.A.
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Long-term loan of Screen Projects
© Carlos Motta
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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