At the outset of Madre Drone, a colossal militarized robot faces a diminutive female drone whose green laser empowered fingers caress the robot “trapped in my right side” for immediate activation of “the left.” This same electrifying green later emits from the drone’s fingers to stroke the dead fur of a burnt fox and to cuddle a Toucan blinded by deforestation. Domínguez enacts a heroic eco-feminist effort to call nature back to the prior life of a teaming Bolivian rain forest burnt and singed by capitalist greed. Madre Drone electrifies the touch of the eye. In tactical performance, the artist recombines shots of the one-eyed Toucan with cosmological representations of the ocular wounds of 460 Santiago protesters assaulted by the bullets, pellets, and teargas of fascist Chilean police. “In Andean cosmology,” says Domínguez, “the eyes are situated on the back, and we look toward the past. In neoliberal cosmology, it would seem that the eyes are the price we pay for being vulnerable. Eyes, one of our most precious ‘possessions,’ are often the highest price we pay for our sacred relationships with the future. The system has unleashed an assault on the gaze. The internalized racism and classism of this country have set in motion the acceleration of the long-overdue revolution.” In assemblages from Bolivia and Chile, nature and its eco-feminist protectors ride the power of Madre Drone to strike back through a montage of fictionalized electrotouch and haunting footage of burning forests and searing protests. At the video’s end, laser pointers of hundreds of protesters combine their celestial touch to burn to the ground a surveilling militarized drone. Madre Drone solicits those blinded birds and wounded protestors “to activate a new way of seeing, one that matters, one that will permit us to experience the future.”
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.