Cactus & Creatures

 

Cactus&Creatures

 

First Food Art Residency organised the exhibition “Cactus & Creatures”, hosted by The Koppel Project in London, from the 6 of October to the 4 of November 2017. There were artworks from 19 Mexican and British artists and I participated with a series of sketches about cactus.

         I used these sketches as a guide to create a clay sculpture, La ofrenda de Copil (Copil’s Offering). The design arose from the notion of the heart as a symbol of sacrifice in the Mexica’s world view, an organ usually referred to as quauhnochtli, Nahuatl word meaning “sacred tuna” – Tuna or prickly pear was considered a divine food. Therefore, the idea of a heart-tuna reminded me of Mexico City’s foundation, which is linked to sacrifice and offering.

            According to the myth, Malinalxochitl, god Huitzilopochtli’s sister, was abandoned by him and the Mexicas during their pilgrimage looking for the destined site to establish a great city: Huitzilopochtli had said the place would be where an eagle eating a snake perched on a cactus was found. So Malinalxochitl took shelter in Malinalco and gave birth to Copil, to whom hatred against Huitzilopochtli was instilled by her. Some time afterwards, in revenge for her mother’s suffering, Copil conspired to defeat his uncle in battle. However, Huitzilopochtli anticipated the events and ordered his priests to capture Copil, extract the heart from his body and throw it into the lake; the heart was turned into stone and a nopal cactus blossomed from it. Such nopal cactus, along with the eagle and the snake, was the one found by Mexicas and where Mexico-Tenochtitlan was built.

http://thekoppelproject.com/cactus-creatures/

https://www.firstfoodresidency.com/cactus-and-creatures-london-2017

[Spanish]

First Food Art Residency organizó la exposición “Cactus & Creatures”, presentada por The Koppel Project en Londres, del 6 de octubre al 4 de noviembre de 2017. Se mostraron trabajos de 19 artistas tanto mexicanos como británicos y participé con una serie de bocetos sobre el cactus.

          Usé estos bocetos como guía para crear una escultura de barro, La ofrenda de Copil. El diseño surgió a partir de la noción del corazón como símbolo de sacrificio en la cosmovisión mexica, órgano usualmente referido como quauhnochtli, palabra náhuatl que significa “tuna sagrada”: la tuna es el fruto del nopal o tunal, y se consideraba alimento divino. Por consiguiente, la idea de un corazón-tuna me remitió inmediatamente a la historia del origen de la Ciudad de México, la cual está vinculada con el sacrificio y la ofrenda.

         Según el mito, Malinalxóchitl, hermana del dios Huitzilopochtli, fue abandonada por éste y los mexicas durante la peregrinación en busca del lugar prometido: Huitzilopochtli había dicho que fundarían su reino donde encontraran un águila posada sobre un nopal devorando una serpiente. De manera que Malinalxóchitl se refugió en Malinalco y procreó a Copil, a quien le inculcó el odio hacia su hermano. Tiempo después, en venganza por el sufrimiento que había atravesado su madre, Copil conspiró en contra de su tío con la intención de derrotarlo en batalla. Sin embargo, Huitzilopochtli se anticipó a los hechos ordenando a sus sacerdotes que lo apresaran, le extrajeran el corazón y lo arrojaran al lago; el corazón se transformó en piedra y de él floreció un nopal. Dicho nopal, junto con el águila y la serpiente, fue el que hallaron los mexicas y sobre el que erigieron la ciudad México-Tenochtitlan.

http://thekoppelproject.com/cactus-creatures/

https://www.firstfoodresidency.com/cactus-and-creatures-london-2017

SKETCH 1

Sketch 1 _ Heart

The heart was considered the centre of life and the organ of individual consciousness by different Mesoamerican cultures. Mexicas offered the heart and blood from sacrificed bodies to their deities to keep the stars movement unalterable.

SKETCH 2

Sketch 2 _ Hands

During human sacrifice the priest extracted the heart with his hands thus allowing the divine from the sacrificed body to raise.

SKETCH 3

Sketch 3 _ Nopal

In Mexica’s world view men kept the stars movement, especially the sun’s, through human sacrifice giving them the necessary energy with blood and hearts. In this way, an interdependence relationship between deities and men is created: men exist because of their gods but the gods need men to survive. Reciprocally, the nopal cactus grows up from a sacrificed deity’s heart, allowing the birth of a city for people’s subsistence.

SKETCH 4

Sketch 4 _ Nopal Detail

SKETCH 5

Sketch 5 _ Sculpture

Complete design of the sculpture: priest’s hand holding Copil’s heart with a nopal cactus growing up from it.

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