Jose Orozco

Kochinadas Kineticas

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 master’s 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 Rock’em Sock’em 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.

THE DEVIL’S 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 Devil’s legs move propelling him on his rollerblades while accompanies by the lambada theme song.










EL 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 sequined cloth.

Action: Unicycles circle the platform while accompanied by a Mexican children’s song.


DRUMMING 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 Virgen’s hands move up and down striking the drum as she sways side to side.