Installation shot of Solar Star by Beatriz Cortez & rafa esparza

Solar Star

By Artists: Beatriz Cortez & rafa esparza
Date: 8.22.2020
Art In Residence is pleased to present Solar Star, a collaboration by Beatriz Cortez and rafa esparza.

The land and what it holds (The Underworld) and the Sun (the source of life) are sacred for the ancient peoples of the Americas and their descendants. In ancient times, the Aztecs held a ceremony in celebra- tion of the Aztec god of the sun, Huitzilopochtli, by filling a clay pot with offerings and covering it with feathers. They beat it with a stick, and when the pot broke, the offerings for the god Huitzilopochtli fell to the ground. It is believed that the Maya held a similar ceremony with a spherical clay pot filled with gifts that they hung from a string and they beat with a stick. Solar Star will insert itself as an extension of these ancient cultural practices, while it will also evoke colonial piñatas brought to the Americas by the Spaniards, as well as Sputnik 1, the first satellite to orbit the Earth.

In addition, the title of this work oscillates between a space capsule, a cosmic source of light, and the name of the largest solar panel farm in the world, a privately owned power plant in Antelope Valley, CA with approximately 1.7 million Sun Power monocrystalline silicon modules on single-axis trackers that generates 579 megawatts and takes over 3,200 acres of Antelope Valley. The plant serves not only as a symbol of the destruction of the natural environment, but also of the colonization of indigenous habitats for plants, animals, and human beings. Furthermore, it privatizes the energy produced by the sun rays.

Solar Star evokes a piñata, unfolding time to bring together ancient cultural practices and children’s celebrations in numerous contemporary cultures in the Americas. The structure, made of steel, wire, adobe, and mylar ribbons, also makes use of the materials that surround thousands of immigrant children who have been separated from their families and are being held in detention centers all over the State of California and in the nation.

These materials invite viewers to imagine that another world is possible with the same resources that we have available now. The mylar, with its mirror-like qualities, commonly used as both an emergency blanket or as a basic element for desert camping, becomes here a mirror that playfully decorates a piñata and that multiplies the sun rays, spreading the sun rays in multiple directions throughout the landscape.

Solar Star is a one day activation where the seed pods inside Solar Star will spread over the landscape, symbolically inviting all to take some pods home, to care for future gardens, and to imagine the children in detention centers freed and spread over the landscape, with all the porentialities to flourish in the future. In addition, our own roles as keepers of the land for the time that is allotted to us will be imagined as a communal relationship to nature, as an alternative to colonial practices such as privatization and capitalizing from the land.