Fernando Palma Rodríguez, Soldado (Soldier), 2001, mixed media, electronic circuits and sensors, dimensions variable. Photo: Ed Mumford.

Fernando Palma Rodríguez

House of Gaga

A small red robot with a coyote head pivoted. It drew back, ready to take a step, but found itself tethered to a rock. Its agency was neutralized by this unjust mechanism, yet it was still threatening, as its blade-clad hands rotated menacingly. Just like its blue double, on view in a simultaneous exhibition across the country, the work is titled Soldado.

The architect of this machine, Fernando Palma Rodríguez—an artist, engineer, and activist—is based in Milpa Alta, a key agricultural region near Mexico City, where, in addition to his studio, he runs a not-for-profit institution dedicated to the preservation of the indigenous Nahuatl language (historically spoken in the Aztec Empire and today spoken by more than one and a half million people) as well as its speakers’ approach to society, nature, and culture. This show, connected to his concurrent exhibition at MOMA PS1, New York,

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