Patricia Domínguez – 2022 Cornell Biennial


Madre Drone

Madre Drone (Mother Drone)

Multiple energies come together in this exhibition, all hoping to connect with yours; multiple encounters that form a dense world, a world that extracts meanings to unite and braid them, trying to create a new myth to narrate a different present. Madre Drone (Mother Drone), by Chilean artist Patricia Domínguez, orbits around the idea of cultural fusion to create a universe built from the encounters that intersect her life and that build a reality in which a drone weeps as it watches you, in which a robot dreams of luminous snakes.

The project was born from an investigation that the artist has been carrying out for years and that had a first episode in the exhibition Green Irises held in 2019 at Gasworks London. Myths, symbols and rituals are intertwined with ideas of extraction, cultural appropriation and the destruction of natural heritage due to wild industrialization. All this element coexists within the of colonial encounters that mark her context. In the exhibition, energy crystals coexist with healing plants and business shirts whose prints remind us of the shapes of indigenous vessels in a sort of coincidence that, in Domínguez’ hands, become a kind of amulet that tries to capture the spirit of the contemporary.

Madre Drone orbits around two audiovisual installations in the shape of cybernetic altars in which we see two videos: In one of them, Eyes of Plants, different cosmologies come together in a narrative that speaks of healing and the magical presence of roses, the fruit of colonial influence in Latin America. On either side, the artist’s digitally scanned eyes are filled with forms that cover them, that interfere between her gaze and yours. In the second video, Madre Drone, produced especially for this exhibition during her residency in Kiosko in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the same dreamlike aesthetic draws us into something akin to a mirage in which a woman–serpent has a luminous encounter with a robot that might well be human, a kind of cosmic annunciation in which the lights produced by this character connect with the laser lights used by the protesters in Chilean student riots to blind spy drones. The eyes of a toucan blinded the Amazon fire are witnesses to this bastard reality traverses by a thousand stories.

Groups of vessels, watercolors representing neoliberal dreams, and a series of totems composed of abundant objects in an accumulation that is by no means easy to describe, add even more content to this series of meanings and try to exorcise a reality that is impossible to grasp and overwhelms us with its thousands of signs, with its bombardment of objects. Faced with this blockage, the artist proposes that you look at it in a different way, that you use these objects that she thinks up with her hands, as antidotes to enter the world she creates, as strategies to inhabit this space of energy in which plants have eyes, in which drones weep, in which blind toucans can no longer see fire.

The artist, educator, and experimental ethnobotanist Patricia Domínguez (b. 1984, Santiago, Chile) creates otherworldly video works and sculptural environments that draw from an expansive inventory of visual symbols, ranging from plant life and healing rituals to cheap mass market goods, internet downloads, and corporate wellness schemes. Staged in natural and shrine-like settings, often illuminated by the fluorescent glow of LED lights, Domínguez’s time-based pieces reflect the artist’s research on the long mark of colonization in Chile and her own family history, as entangled across ecological, spiritual, and therapeutic realms. Positioned in a hyper-commercialized, over-extracted world, Domínguez’s videos nonetheless propose a poetic vision of contemporary life as deeply connected to the earth.

Bringing together experimental research on ethnobotany, healing practices and the corporealization of wellbeing, her work focuses on tracing relationships of labor, affect, obligation and emancipation among living species in a cosmos that is ever more corporatized in nature.

Her major projects have been exhibited at CentroCentro (Madrid); Gasworks (London); Momenta Biennale (Montréal);Columbus Museum of Art (Ohio); Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA, Seoul); CentroCentro, The Future is Not What Will Happen, but What We Will Do, ARCO and Twin Gallery (all in Madrid); El Museo del Barrio, Bronx Museum, The Clemente, Yeh Art Gallery (all in New York); FLORA and Liberia (both in Colombia); Meet Factory (Prague); Centro Cultural España, CCU, MAC, MAVI and Galería Patricia Ready (all in Chile), among others.

Her studies include a Master’s Degree in Studio Art from Hunter College, New York (2013) and a Botanical Art & Illustration Certificate from the New York Botanical Garden (2011). She has recently been the recipient of the Fundación AMA Grant (2017), the Media Art Award from Fundación Telefónica and the 3rd Norberto Griffa Prize (both 2014), among others. She is currently director of the ethnobotanical platform Studio Vegetalista.

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