Kochinadas Kineticas or as they are referred to in English, Kinetic Kochinadas,
are a body of art inspired by the folk toys of cultures around the world (especially
Mexico) and built on the seemingly inexhaustible supply of used, battery-operated
and wind-up toys produced in Asia (mostly China).
The paper-maché, clay, and wooden toys made by Mexican artisans and
animated into movement by their imagination and engineering genius never failed
to amaze and delight me as a child: puppets brought to life by the nimble
movements of their masters hands; walnut pigs whose eyes, ears, and
tail where animated by a live (but, soon, dead) fly placed inside its hollowed
body; rubber band-powered cars, tin airplanes whose propellers shimmied and
shook with the wind; wooden carrousels that twirled when one moved a crank,
and (of course) the 3-D picture of Jesus whose eyes followed your every movement
to never let you forget that God was always watching Mira que
Dios te mira. Mira que te esta mirando. Mira que te as de mirir. Mira que
no sabes cuando!
All these novelties nourished my imagination and were a significant part of
my cultural upbringing. On the other hand, the plastic, battery-operated toys
I played with in Los Angeles, with their flashing lights, high-pitched siren
noises, and robotic human voices, had more pizzazz, but less soul. Plastic
always has less soul; more so when the product is one of several thousand
produced by slave labor thousands of miles away. The Mexican toys were produced
one at a time, each a unique piece. And although the Mexican artisans who
made these toys were not much better off economically or socially than the
workers who produced my Rockem Sockem Robots in China, they were
still able to imprint their work with their aesthetic vision. The cultural
hybrid that I am is reflected in the hybrid nature of my Kochinadas Kineticas.
The toys are the synthesis of the electric flash, noise, and kinetic vitality
of the Chinese toys with the soul of the Mexican toys. They are made from
the detritus of capitalist production, shaped by the fading memory of my childhood,
and inspired by the iconography of the Catholic Church.
DEVILS DAY OUT
The Devil visits Southern California, and like most tourists decides to go
to Venice Beach. But the Devil, being the Devil, decides to roller blade on
the pier without any clothes on. He is accompanies by a fellow demon and his
flying pit bull, Casimira.
Materials: Battery-operated toy, clay, acrylic paints.
Action: The Devils legs move propelling him on his rollerblades while
accompanies by the lambada theme song.
SANTO CONTRA BLUE DEMON
El Santo and Blue Demon are two of the most famous masked wrestlers of the
Mexican wrestling film genre. The wrestlers and their movies were immensely
popular in Mexico and the U.S. between the 1950s and 1980s. The piece is a
commentary on the not-so-subtle homoerotic nature of the movies and the on
screen relations of the wrestlers. The faces on the side of the platform are
muttering words of disbelief (no puede ser, no lo creo, no es possible, no,
no, no) as they see the two naked wrestlers, holding hands and riding their
unicycle, oblivious the criticism emanating from below.
Materials: Battery-operated toy, clay, acrylic paints, and found pieces of
Action: Unicycles circle the platform while accompanied by a Mexican childrens
UP BUSINESS FOR THE LORD
The Virgen de Guadalupe is represented playing a drum. The piece is a commentary
on the crucial role that this most important symbol of Mexican nationality
and mestizaje had in facilitating the spiritual conquest of the indigenous
population by their Spanish overlords.
Materials: Batter-operated toy, clay, acrylic paints.
Action: The Virgens hands move up and down striking the drum as she
sways side to side.