Beatriz Cortez & Rafa Esparza: Nomad 13
January 27, 2019 — May 12, 2019
Beatriz Cortez and Rafa Esparza present a new iteration of their collaborative installation, Nomad 13. Taking the form of an unconventional space capsule built from adobe bricks and steel, the structure houses a garden of indigenous plants originally cultivated by the Inca, Maya, and Aztec civilizations. The garden refers to the long history of plant migration, as well as the knowledge and technological advances of ancient peoples in plant cultivation, nutrition, and building practices.
In symbolically “launching” these plants into the cosmos, the artists evoke the real ongoing experiments of NASA to grow food in outer space. In April 2014, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) delivered the first plant growth system, called “Veggie,” to the space station on the SpaceX-3 mission. The U.S. government’s post-war development of NASA also parallels efforts by the government to restrict and control household gardens and people’s ability to grow their own food which had been spurred by the “Victory Garden” movement during World War II.
The garden contains a variety of plants: corn, black beans, sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, chayote squash, chia, chili pepper, yerba buena, sage, and ceiba tree. The crops are protected in their travels by the Aztec deity Xolotl who manifests as two dogs. Xolotl guards the sun as it travels through the underworld every night, and protects travelers as they move through space, time, and unknown territories.
This project was supported, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.
Exhibition Photography: Gina Clyne