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Visual Art

Candelilla, Coatlicue, and the Breathing Machine

5 Apr 201920 Oct 2019


Marfa, Texas


Beatriz Cortez  |  Candice Lin  |  Fernando Palma Rodríguez

Candelilla, Coatlicue, and the Breathing Machine was an exhibition that featured new work by three artists: Beatriz Cortez, Candice Lin, and Fernando Palma Rodríguez. The title refers to a facet of each artist’s contribution to the show, which ranged from wax pours to robotic storytellers to provisional shelters and beyond.

The varied installations and objects from these three artists generated a conversation about the animate qualities of land; human and non-human migrations & cross-pollinations; and the simultaneous existence of past, present, and future. Each artist spent time in Marfa and around the Big Bend, and these experiences were reflected in the commissioned works.

New drawings from Candice Lin explored common species around Marfa–cholla, creosote, ocotillo–and were produced after the artist ingested tinctures she made of each of these plants. Lin also created an immersive new installation from her research on the biopolitics of the candelilla plant, that was harvested and utilized on both sides of the nearby US/Mexico border.

Fernando Palma Rodríguez created new ‘mechatronic’ sculptures that speak to intersecting lands, myths and histories in Texas and Mexico through choreographed spatial storytelling. These kinetic works responded to algorithms from nature and to the movements of bodies throughout the gallery.  

A new installation from Beatriz Cortez in Ballroom’s courtyard explored modernity, nomadic architectures, and the oppressive structures of Donald Trump’s family separation policy via geodesic domes constructed from chain link, mylar, folded metal, and scrapped car hoods. Cortez also engineered a new machine titled Infinite Mixture of Things, Past, Present, and Future that used a hypocycloidal gear to mix air and move a small garden of native crops, referencing the generosity of plant respiration and universal exchange of breath.

The exhibition put these three important artists and their distinct bodies of work in conversation about lands, plants, and histories particular to the U.S./Mexico border in West Texas and facilitated the production of a slate of new objects and installations via Ballroom’s commissions–supporting new art, ideas and relationships.

Candelilla, Coatlicue, and the Breathing Machine was organized by former Ballroom Director & Curator Laura Copelin.


Listen to Marfa Public Radio’s West Texas Talk interview with Beatriz Cortez and Fernando Palma Rodríguez on KRTS 93.5FM or via their online stream.


Video by David Fenster.

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