Long before humans did, the native stingless bees known to the Maya Peoples today as xunáan kaab, settled in the diverse, currently endangered ecosystems of the Yucatán Peninsula in Central America. There is no less than a dozen varieties of stingless bees known to us today, of which the Melipona beecheii is one that is commonly cared for by the Maya in hollow tree logs known as jobones. An intimate bond between the ancestral Maya and these wild native bees is attested to in pre-Hispanic manuscripts, which codified how honey and wax were harvested for their healing properties as well as for ceremonial offerings. The last twelve pages of the so-called “Madrid Codex” have been subject to careful examination by both Maya and Western epigraphists who aim to preserve not only severed ancestral knowledges on bee keeping, but also the deep veneration assigned to these delicate creatures as guardians and protectors of their ecosystems. 


The exhibition U JUUM BÀALAM KAAB the humming of the guardian bee borrows its title from a poem by Maya poets Daniela Cano and Sasil Sánchez and the eponymous pedagogical tool that emerged out of an ongoing collaboration between Spore Initiative and the Escuela de Agricultura Ecológica U Yits Ka’an. It is the continuous humming, reverberating through time and across generations of Melipona bees and Maya practitioners of meliponicultura, that inspired the immersive installation House of Similarities by Ariel Guzik. Especially commissioned by Spore, this work is the fruit of a dialogue with communities of meliponiculturists and U Yits Ka’an, building on Guzik’s long practice of exploring nature's expressions and interspecies communication through instruments, resonant bodies and sound. Inspired by the endearing care, understanding, and relationship of profound mutuality between humans and Melipona bees that he encountered in the community, Guzik proposes a house for the Melipona bees that transcends its symbolic register as it returns to Yucatán, where it will join other jobones kept by meliponiculturist Doña Neby, to whom the work is indebted and will be donated to. Central to this work is a forty-minute sound study of recordings of Melipona colonies, accompanied by a set of drawings merging poetry, his ideogramic script, and dream-like scenery that invite imagination, fantasy, and wonder.


December, 16th

Casa de Semejanzas


Ariel Guzik and Laboratorio de Investigación en Resonancia y Expresión de la Naturaleza, 2022.
Soundscape design: Emilio Gálvez y Fuentes, in cooperation with Daniel Aspuru.
Recording of the bees: Ariel Guzik and Gabriela Galván.
Video: Gabriela Galván.
Woodwork: Luis Alonso
Production: Catalina Juarez.
In cooperation with: Leobardo Ramírez, Adriaan Schalkwijk, Carmen Pineda and Beatriz Beltyrán

With special thanks to the Prince Claus Fund

Marvin Systermans
Victoria Tomaschko
Tanzim Wahab
Marvin Systermans
Marvin Systermans
Marvin Systermans
Marvin Systermans
Marvin Systermans
Tanzim Wahab
Marvin Systermans


Exhibition production: Simon Krosigk
Exhibition design: Diogo Passarinho and Gonçalo Reynolds (DPStudio)
Graphic design: Stoodio Santiago da Silva
Lighting design: Emilio Cordero Checa
Production Team: Santiago Doljanin, Sophie Kindermann, Till Ronacher & Sebastian Schwindt (und.studio), Matthieu Séry, and Marc Schamuthe
Carpentry: Zinken & Zapfen

Translation & editing in English, Spanish, German: Michele Faguet, Gegensatz - Translation Collective
Spanish editing and proofreading: Loreto Solis
Curated, commissioned and produced by: Spore Team