Trail Dust – Āmantēcayōtl

Fernando Palma Rodríguez: Āmantēcayōtl

Canal Projects is pleased to announce a new commission by the Nahua artist Fernando Palma Rodríguez (b. 1957, Mexico). A pioneer of Indigenous robotics, the artist’s new project Āmantēcayōtl: Auh inihcuac huel ompoliuh, mitoa, ommic in meztli presents an installation that emulates a corn field on the slopes of the Teuhtli Volcano in Milpa Alta, Mexico. At Canal Projects, the exhibition features three robotic entities that represent different deities of the mesoamerican pantheon.

Together, the mechanized entities make evident the sacred relationship that exists between Nahua cosmologies and the cultivation of corn, bean, and squash, which are grown together in what is traditionally known as the Milpa. At the center of the exhibition, the Cincoatl snake glides through a corn field while the Tezactipoclas interact with viewers, embodying traditions involved in caring for and being in community with the land. The artist’s invocation of the sacred pantheon, more than a personification of these deities, redefines the very notion of the robot as a conduit for the recuperation of the Nahuatl language, earth technologies, and the positioning of Aztec cosmologies.

Palma Rodríguez combines his training as an artist and mechanical engineer to create robotic sculptures that are activated through internet-sourced climate data from the Milpa Alta region. His works respond to issues facing Indigenous communities in Mexico today while also underscoring that the struggles for the protection of life and the defense of territory are inseparable from the recuperation of traditional ways of life. Central to Palma Rodríguez’s practice is an emphasis on ancestral knowledge, both as an integral part of contemporary life and as a way of shaping the future.

Curated by Sara Garzón.

Trương Công Tùng: Trail Dust

In the Lower Level, Canal Projects presents the exhibition Trail Dust. This exhibition features recent work by the Vietnamese artist Trương Công Tùng (Đắk Lắk province, b. 1986), exploring the artist’s ongoing interest in the histories, rituals, and mythologies of land stewardship as a living practice.

At Canal Projects, Trương reimagines a living garden as a heavy beaded curtain. Draped along the edge of the gallery, the curtain is woven with beads that originate from forest trees including those that were introduced to Vietnam during the process of industrialization, such as coffee, avocado, rubber, and cashew trees. According to Vietnamese folklore, it is believed that the last things seen by an animal before their death are permanently captured in their eyes. In accompanying video, The Lost Landscape #1 (2021), viewers are taken through the Natural History Museum in Paris, honing in on close-up shots of the glass eyes of taxidermied animals.

Akin to the way a gardener nurtures a parcel of land, Trương tends to his work over time, allowing it to evolve, change, and iterate in response to the specifics of each site. Combining natural materials with found objects of an inorganic, disruptive, or incongruent nature, Trương reflects on the interruption of Indigenous practices by the forces of modernity, colonialism, and conflict. Rather than lamenting what has passed, Trương’s poetic sensibilities find resilience in a reimagining of the land as a site of communion between the physical and spiritual worlds.