aztlán is the ancestral homeland to the aztec people. its mythos became an emblem of identity for the chicano movement of the 1960/70s.
aztlán highlights places and narratives that culturally construct the conditions of my perception in relation to the sun. the work explores my relationship to the sun through historicizing the prominence of it's light in the borderlands and the shaping influence of this light.
2018: inner orbit - form & concept - santa fe, nm
They came from the north, the people of the sun.
From stardust, to star¹, to solar system, to planet², to microorganisms, to humans, to la Mexica³, to Mestizos, to Xicanos⁴.
They left the northern homeland to follow a spiritual quest for finding the center of the new empire⁵. In the valley of Mexico, Tenochtitlán was declared on the central island of Lake Texcoco where an eagle sat atop an opuntia cactus devouring a serpent. In this era, known as the Fifth Sun, the people of sun expanded and dominated this region of the world for two centuries.⁶
The Spanish Conquest massacred millions in the Americas, resulting in a constant fluctuation of blended cultures for the new generations of mestizos that followed European ideologies with Indigenous accents. Under varying leadership, the Mexican nation expanded its law and culture to territories surpassing the northern homeland. The northern Mexican territories were quiet, lowly populated, and large. The Americans invaded and claimed the land as the final chapter in it’s vision of manifest destiny.⁷ Half of Mexico instantly became America. The leadership in central Mexico grew conflicted from this loss and began a violent revolution. In response, an exodus of those fleeing the violence, returned to the northern homeland across the freshly defined U.S./Mex border.
A widowed peasant woman and her young son left Acámbaro to McAllen, Texas in 1916. A century later, the descendants affected by this immigration are fourth and fifth generation Mexican-Americans, Xicanos. As one leaves a site for another and then returns to the original site, one’s identity expands in adapting to the new conditions of each site's current iteration.
What remains consistent in this cyclical narrative, is the lineage which describes the people of the sun. This region of the world is intolerant of weak spirits among it’s harsh environment. The large deserts, mountainous terrain, and plentiful sunlight dominate the setting of this unfinished narrative, as the next chapter is authored. People of the sun survive by a spiritual adherence to light. In order to complete the journey escaping a national conflict and establishing a new life in a foreign country, the peasant woman held faith in curanderismo.⁸ Her intention was to pray to the energies from all the spiritual mestizo lineages. Her prayer was reaffirmed by an illuminated sky consistently shining from above as they fled to the north.
This narrative became cyclical as the consciousness of a people and their culture left the north to the south, and returned to the north where it originated, but as a new form. This mirrors the cyclical narrative of stars that are born from stardust; grow and orbit, traveling in spacetime; finally combusting into the stardust it began as.
They are people of sun, just as we are of the stars.
³ The last of seven tribes to leave Aztlán, later known as the Aztecs, those who are from Aztlán
⁴ Alternative spelling for Chicanos
⁵ Aztec Empire
⁶ Equivalent to four Aztec centuries
⁷ Resulted from the 1946-1848 Mexican-American War
⁸ The practice of a Curandero: a healer who blends spiritual practices of Catholicism and indigenous rituals and teachings