Manuel Felguérez & Páramo

February 28, 2020

Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC)

A collaboration between Manuel Felguérez and Páramo.

Páramo is honored to participate in Trajectories, the exhibition presented by Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) to celebrate the life and work of Manuel Felguérez (Zacatecas, 1928), a key figure in the development of contemporary art in Mexico. Under the artist’s supervision, Páramo built a reproduction of La máquina del deseo [The love machine], now exhibited at MUAC, in Mexico City.

The original piece was built in 1973 by Felguérez as a request from chilean artist, writer and filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky, who used it for his cult film La Montaña Sagrada [The Holy Mountain]. It was a mobile piece with a geometric structure which functioned in the movie as a transgressive device. Both the machine and its mockup were lost after the shooting.

La máquina del deseo was reactivated 45 years later –for the first time in Mexico– for its presentation at Felguérez solo exhibition at Páramo, in March 2018. Enrique Nuño, museographer and artist (member of Gabinete Homo Extraterrestre), designed the new mockup and built the piece’s reproduction in collaboration with Astrid Abbadie.

In a conversation with Pilar García,  the curator of Trajectories,  Felguérez explains the context in which he created the original piece. Jodorowsky had conceived an “art factory” for the movie and he commissioned the mexican plastic artist to create a fake art collection. Later came the invention of La máquina del deseo, as Felguérez himself recounts:

“We had an American model who had come to do the film and he said, ‘Man, why don’t you have this beautiful woman turn a machine on?’ ‘What should we do?’ ‘Whatever you want,’ he said. He was very laid-back, he trusted me. But we didn’t have the money or the parts to make a kinetic machine—kineticism was in vogue at the time. The idea was to build a machine that would start off as a cube, and as it was turned on by a plastic phallus, it would get bigger. Since we didn’t have the motors to make this happen, the crew formed part of the device. ‘Come on guys, move this piece, raise it up’. A group of six or seven strong men began to do all the movements by hand. And so we went from a machine that got bigger on its own to doing everything by hand. Everything was plastic. I made a model out of cardboard boxes, to see how it would transform. All of the girl’s movements were directed by Alejandro, though. ‘Let’s see, move over here, turn around, now show off your body’. It was all directed by him, but it was based around the machine. It came first, and then the scene was built around it. To finish it off, there was a little machine that squirted water. The little machine came out from below and came all over the set. That’s the whole story. For us, it was pure laughter, pure fun […]’

Trajectories, by Manuel Felguérez, is open at MUAC from December 7, 2019 to May 10, 2020.

Images: MUAC, Páramo and The holy mountain 1-3: Views of Trajectories, MUAC, 2020 4-6: La máquina del deseo at Páramo, 2018 7-8: Stills from the film The holy mountain, by Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1973