Epoch Gallery


In Oración (Prayer), which takes its name from a poem by acclaimed Colombian poet María Mercedes Carranza, Ana María Caballero proposes a new form of literary translation, breaking down the process to probe the subliminal connotations of prayer, the poetics of prompts and the semiotic entanglements of metaphor.

Caballero’s textual translation is gestural–a personalized recasting of Carranza’s desperation in ways that speak to Caballero’s own relationship with devotion. By concentrating on the poem’s undercurrent of despair, Caballero accentuates poetry’s ability to capture ephemeral, personal moments and preserve them within poetic time and space so they may be felt by others. Caballeroalso transposed phrases from the poem, along with nuanced interpretations of its symbolism, into prompts, creating a vast compendium of images. The semantics, sounds, palettes, architectures, garments, kinesics, iconographies of prayer have been conditioned by institutionalized faith over centuries. Despite this, Caballero found honesty in her dialogue with the machine, curating a visual narrative that evokes the privacy, hope and despair of prayer, at once an experience of intense selfhood and acknowledgement of otherness. As prayer uses language to beseech the unknown for answers, working with text-to-image generation queries our collective unconscious, scouring our digital, shared memories, hoping to find an image that looks and feels like a response.

Few are the places where the personal and the universal, the sublime and the crepuscular, the known and the unknown, collide as bluntly as in prayer—but, also, as in poetry.

This work was part of Epoch Gallery’s XENOSPACE Exhibition in March 2023.



after María Mercedes Carranza

To pray is to be

to sur-
render to the severance

of language,

to summon slight  words
such as heel,
which measures a portion of my physical

but also, a slice of my boot, a
costume I don and revise

in ways that
my mass

than it truthfully

but I fling off heels because they
bring bodily hurt,

I opt
to traipse, to march  with-
out artificially expansive parts,

I cave  to  size,

heel to pray to heal
in  bare feet,

I pre-
tend, pre-
sume alphabets work,

beg they might drop
into place with shivers
that prompt

literal moments
of faith.