San Francisco, CA
Fernando Palma Rodríguez brings the New Work gallery to life in Macuil Xochitl (5-flower), a kinetic installation that recalls a Mesoamerican creation story enacted by a series of newly made mechatronic sculptures that blend mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science. In the story, four gods representing the cardinal directions preserve order and give structure to our understanding of reality; the sculptures enact this narrative as characters in a play. Using materials such as ladders, chairs, and electronic sensors, soil, and other domestic and natural objects, the exhibition intends to instill in the public a heightened sense of urgency driven by climate change and a desire for sustainability.
Palma Rodríguez’s installation, Macuil Xochitl (5-flower), aims to connect the ongoing struggle around land and water rights in his home community of Milpa Alta, an agricultural region of Nahua origin that supplies much of Mexico City with its clean water, to a broader conversation around environmental crises. Each robotic character is activated by electronic hardware that taps into distant meteorological phenomena, reflecting the artist’s desire to give nature a “voice,” and to engage the viewer in a conversation with issues of environmental concern. Interweaving Indigenous cosmogony with technology, Palma Rodríguez invites the viewer into a mesmerizing dance that invokes humans’ relationship with the natural world.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website