Xook K’iin - Workshop on Ant behaviour
Artist, illustrator and educator Cecilia Moo, biologist Rocío Bárcenas, and musician Oksana Bila facilitated six workshops based on the role of ants as bioindicators in the xook k'iin, the traditional method of weather forecasting in Mayan communities. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 from different communities of Campeche participated. The workshops were based on a set of sensory, artistic, musical, and playful methods and included moments of intergenerational knowledge sharing, environmental education, citizen science, and close observation of natural phenomena. The children’s drawings from the workshop are included in the exhibition Xook k'iin perceiving temporalities.
To understand the behavior of insects as part of the xook k'iin reading, the children explored topics such as the diversity of ant varieties, their social organization, the structure of an ant hill, the ways they communicate, the relationship between mycorrhizae fungi and ants, and their role as guardians of a variety of plants. The children used logbooks to record their week-long observations with words and drawings. The xook k'iin is an ecological practice that has been passed down for generations, mainly orally. The workshop therefor also included an exchange with elders on it.
Children that participated in this workshop practiced observing and listening to nature closely and patiently to better understand the ant and its behavior. Equipped with magnifying glasses, they examined the ants' anatomy and movements and created drawings. The children listened to audio recordings of ants and other insects, learning to identify similar and unique sounds. The listening sessions included an intervention by musician Oksana Bila on the sounds of nature and playful ways of imitating sounds with different instruments. It also included making drawings of sounds and a dance, interpreting the social behavior of the ant.
The movements of ants change depending on temperature changes - a phenomenon that is observed as part of the xook k'iin. To mediate the experience of how ants communicate despite their limited vision, the children were given masks and formed groups that followed different smells. The children then drew mental maps of their ways home, while imagining that they were navigating this route as ants and imagining how different weather conditions would affect their journey. The children recreated different scenarios and reactions of the ant by acting out the situations in front of an imaginary anthill. While some children acted out the parts of the wind, rain, and sun, the rest imitated the ants’ movements in response to the different weather situations.
AcknowledgementsLucía Sharedi Alejo Chi , Oded Sofía Alejo Chi , Rocío Bárcenas , Kateryna Bila , Oksana Bila , Ramón Casanova Chi , Gedher Edith Cervera Angulo , Jadive Jesarela Chi Valdez , Luna Gabriela Chi Valdez , Arlet Alejandra Cruz Chi , Luis Gadiel Dorantes Martin , Jesús Emmanuel May Clemente , Octavio Emmanuel Medina Angulo , Yaneysi Giovaba Medina Chi , Irayde Athenea Medina Santiago , Cecilia Moo
This text is an edited and shortened version of Cecilia Moo´s description of the workshop.
The edits have been made by Marco Clausen.