Banda Calaca is a community memorial altar rooted in the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition. This installation, created by Tucson artist Hank Tusinski, is a large-scale, seven piece skeleton band marching atop a platform and beneath a circus tent top. The band marches toward an altar whose central element refers to Teotihuacan culture’s (daily) death of the sun. In Teotihuacan myth, the sun is re-born each morning – underlining the belief in the cycle of life/death/rebirth.
For the past 15 years, Tusinki’s artwork has focused on the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. Fueled by yearly trips to various Mexico states and a deepening interest in the present-day worldview of Mexican indigenous cultures, Tusinski’s work is informed by Mesoamerican cosmovision (a particular view or understanding of the world, especially the view of time and space and its ritualized representation and enactment by Mesoamerican peoples) and comunalidad (the principle and practices of communal likeness and the source of indigenous identity and resistance). His art in recent years has expanded to include sculptural installations in the form of altars that celebrate and commemorate these unique cultural traditions.
A 2011 journey to the lands of the indigenous P΄urhépecha peoples which surround Lake Pátzcuaro in the state of Michoacán is the well-spring of Banda Calaca. To create each skeleton, Tusinski began with gestural drawings, then welded metal armatures which were then covered with foam and papier mâché, then finally painted. The final installation measures approximately 12 feet high, 25 feet long, and 6 feet wide.