by Dilpreet BhullarSep 17, 2022
Are the flowers reciting? Are the leaves whispering? Are the vines in mutiny? Are the plants responding?
It would be fairly normal to have these questions while observing botanical sculptor Azuma Makoto's installation. In Makoto's sculptures, there's revolt and peace, growth and decay, process and end, and life and death. Known for his works that redefine the feminine identity of flowers and reinvent the potential of botany, the Japanese artist has his own unique, utopian visuals and interactive definitions of what the floral world can represent. Expanding his realm of work, Makoto has created his largest work to date in the Mayan jungle amid the curvaceous spaces of SFER IK Museion. Mexx, a site-specific immersive installation marked the reopening of the interdisciplinary arts centre founded by social entrepreneur and Mexico-based architect, Roth. Under the leadership of its new director Marcello Dantas, SFER IK at Azulik Uh May reopened on March 18, 2022, with the botanical sculpture responding to the concepts of coexistence and symbiosis.
Mexx aims to trace the congruence of nature and art. Inspired by the architecture of the museum and the serene enigma of the jungle outside Tulum, Mexico, the installation becomes an art that lives and breathes. While the art world revolves around the norms of performance art, installations, exhibitions and collective pieces, Makoto envisions a piece that is indefinite, and undetermined. The installation which was introduced to the ground of SFER IK on March 18, hasn’t stayed the same over the last six months. While encircling the beauty of the unknown and imperfect, Makoto designed an exhibition around the botanical installation that presents itself differently to every user, growing with time and seasons.
Amid the attempts of presenting the dormant yet noticeable possibilities of flora to impart beauty and extended perception of changes, the sculpture entails a new archetype for the floral art setting. Sharing the intent of the Mexx, SFER IK states, "Over the course of the exhibition, the work will bloom into the museum space, blurring the line between man-made and natural expressions through the lens of the traditional Japanese conception of negative space or ‘Ma’ (間). As much a performance as an artefact, at its core, Mexx asks if an artificial ecosystem can reach symbiosis and harmonise with nature."
Known for his audacious and wide-ranging innovations in the realms of botanical sculpture, the Tokyo-based artist aims to redefine the mythology surrounding exhibition spaces. Following his style of reflecting the subtle reverence for the fleeting nature of life, Mexx composes an enormous array of live indigenous flowers to paint a picture of the country’s biological wealth. Defining the concept of the art installation, Makoto states, "When conceptualising Mexx, I was inspired by the unique architecture of SFER IK. It is made by humans but done in a unique dialogue with the jungle. The museum itself feels like an organism, and I wanted to create a new biophilic encounter between species within it that will naturally evolve over time.” An epitome of the organic architecture of Azulik, the design of SFER IK follows the geometry of nature. While adopting the space to be a sympathetic home for himself, Makoto absorbs these principles of Azulik and creates for the earth, soil, nature and an unknown sacredness.
Owing to his Japanese roots, the co-founder of Japan-based JARDINS des FLEURS is a musician-turned-floral artist who reflects on the relation between life and nature. While literally and metaphorically exploring the out-of-the-world possibilities of floral art and botanical sculpture, Makoto gained attention for his In Bloom series where the artist arranged flowers in situations beyond nature, varying from outer space to the unknown depths of the ocean. However, Mexx exhibits a different perspective of Makoto which contrasts with the experimental settings of his earlier works. The botanical sculpture at SFER IK, which grew over months, took shape from locally-sourced materials like vines, concrete, and fibreglass visible in the museum's biophilic design. Furthermore, SFER IK states, “After dismantling the installation, SFER IK and Azuma will donate all living flowers to the local community.” Picturing a whole cradle-to-grave cycle for the artwork, Makoto presents art as a growing organism that ebbs and flows between the knows and unknows of a lifecycle.
The exhibition Mexx by Azuma Makoto companied by events and performances is on display at SFER IK, Francisco Uh May from March 18, 2022 and will remain open until the flora wilts and decays.