Catherine Abitbol series of work of Olmec colossal heads are a reflection to the sense of wonder and mystery surrounding the Olmec civilization, of which we don’t know much yet. Abitbol gesture is to make a strong call for us to reflect on the wonder of the known towards the fascination of the unknown. Are they really gone, or do they remain living among ourselves. As well, those monumental heads maintain their lips sealed as silent colossal witnesses of themselves.
The Olmecs which prospered from c. 1200 BCE to c. 400 BCE and is generally considered the forerunner of all subsequent Mesoamerican cultures such as the Maya and Aztecs. Monumental sacred complexes, the use of zero, astronomical knowledge, ball games and chocolate drinking were features of Olmec culture which would be passed on to all those who followed this first great Mesoamerican civilization. Yet all remains a mystery, to the point that we do not even know what they called themselves, as ‘Olmec’ was their Aztec name and meant ‘rubber people’. The most striking legacy of the Olmec civilization must be the colossal stone heads they produced. These were carved in basalt and all display unique facial features so that they may be considered portraits of actual rulers. The heads can be nearly 3 m high and 8 tons in weight and the stone from which they were worked was, in some cases, transported 80 km or more. 17 have been discovered, 10 of which are from San Lorenzo. The fact that these giant sculptures depict only the head may be explained by the belief in Mesoamerican culture that it was the head alone which bore the soul.