Kakau Codex (portfolio)

Poli Marichal, Puerto Rican-American, born 1955

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2016

Nine woodcuts printed with organic cacao ink on Legion Stonehenge paper

Block: 12 × 12 in. (30.5 × 30.5 cm)

Sheet: 14 × 14 in. (35.6 × 35.6 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the Anonymous Fund #144

© 2016 Poli Marichal

2023.37.1.1-.9

Geography

Place Made: Puerto Rico, North America

Period

21st century

Object Name

Portfolio

Research Area

Print

On view

Label

Poli Marichal draws upon the Aztec codex tradition—
manuscripts used to record economic, cultural, spiritual,
and practical information that were largely pictorial—to
trace the entangled histories of cacao. Each panel depicts
shifting human relationships to cacao across time. More
than a beverage or food, cacao is an integral part of Maya
and Aztec tradition and cosmology and was used as a
form a currency. It then became a sought-after commodity
during Spanish colonization. In the 19th century, Dutch
chemists patented powdered cacao, facilitating its
preparation and increasing its consumption.
A Pricey Ki$$, the final panel in the codex, features a
domineering image of a Hershey’s chocolate kiss. The
usual paper plume is replaced with a U.S. dollar, an
acknowledgment of the multi-billion-dollar chocolate
industry. As a set, the Kakau Codex explores how this
economic success has come at the expense of exploited
labor, harsh changes to agricultural practices, and
massive environmental risks.

Course History

Art History 40.03, Latin American and Caribbean Studies 20.11, Art and Politics in Latin America, Mary Coffey, Fall 2023

Exhibition History

From the Field: Tracing Foodways Through Art, Owen Robertson Cheatham Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 8-November 3, 2024.

Provenance

The artist, Poli Marichal, San Juan, Puerto Rico; sold to present collection, 2023.

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