The domed head and upper body slopes are covered by a modesty blanket, by a horsehair bristle of dun tussocks, whilst the mountain’s torso is laid out bare, it’s disembowelled chest cavity rent open, the cindered skin excoriated away, peeled back and washed slowly down to the drains, down the stank, down to the arrojos and rios. Like a corpse on the pathologist’s slab, it’s ready for bisection by the geologists and inspection by the students. Wind and water have carved out the soft undigested volcanic ashes, leaving a plasticine of viscera, a gouging that leaves an intestine of organ pipes, vertical chimney voids, the chiaroscuro play of dark and light that form the ghost columns and ranked spires that line the Quebrada de Humahuaca.
Like participating in a painting from one of the Dutch masters, the professorial surgeon demonstrates to his attentive pupils, the plumbing of the lower gut, so we attend a tutorial of successive story board lectures, whilst cycling slowly up onto the Andean puna, back onto the high ground. The iconic mountain, a multi-striated eon line that wavers and folds like a layered cake, poorly blended. A coloured coordination of time, the seven ages of El Cerro de los Siete Colores, where each colour represents a geological epoch.