On Friday and Saturday, September 15 & 16, 2023, was my third art installation entitled “Acequia Apocalypse” for the Paseo Project in Kit Carson Park, Taos, New Mexico. This year’s installment featured 3 projection screens of images and video I have captured over the past 25 years and was a chance to showcase this imagery for the public. In past years’ installations, I only had the central video of an horno mud oven that was in chronological stages of use framed by two old-school slide projectors. I looped the horno video and let the slide projectors loop continuously to allow for the video to be framed by still images that were mostly from my Master’s research from the late 90’s and early 2000’s. To create a more immersive experience, I also burned incense of chamiso (sage), cedar (juniper), and piñon. To hear about my initial thoughts on this installation, click here for an audio essay.
Another aspect of this installation is the soundtrack I created to also tell the story of Acequia Apocalypse. The soundtrack is a music collage that starts with sounds of nature which blends into Native American music which then blends into penitente alabados, or sung prayers of the hermano brotherhood. The music develops to showcase the cultural influences of the Tlaxcaltecas, Flamenco, Comanche, and finally to corridos and ranchera music types. When we get to the stage in history that is defined by the World Wars, the coming of Los Alamos National Lab (military industrial complex), and climate change, the music turns toward Heavy Metal with Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”
This year’s installation on Friday, September 15, 2023, was actually cancelled due to rain. My assistant Francisco Santistevan and I huddled under a canopy debating the possibility of setting up in the dark after the storm while waiting for the rain to stop. We were able to reminisce around our common interest in 1980’s metal and changes we have experienced since until the official word came in that Paseo for Friday night was cancelled due to rain. Looking at the problem as the solution, Francis and I strategized how to make our projection screens more robust for our launch on Saturday night.
On Saturday, Francis and I met in the afternoon to hang three large canvases from the trees to support our widescreen video. Our launch on Saturday night was a success, except that I forgot to bring my incense supplies for the olfactory experience! The way we set up the projection screens, people were able to see the installation from either side of the screen, so many more people were able to experience my art installation than I was aware of, since I was mostly on the projector side of the installation. Another highlight of my installation is that my friend Steve Price shows up with a couple of lowrider remote controlled cars. These little cars drive around my installation site with headlights and hydraulics! They sure are a crowd pleaser and I am really grateful that Steve is always enthusiastic tto show up for Acequia Apocalypse.
The part I really liked about putting this installation together was that I was able to synchronize the videos and images to better tell the story of “Acequia Apocalypse.” The story is a visual representation of the good, the bad, and the ugly of acequias being impacted by United States influence in our region, starting with the trappers, then the railroad, the World Wars, gentrification and real estate, and finally, climate change. The installation is supposed to inspire thought and awareness around these issues. I am hoping to show this installation in other venues like Universities, conferences, or community/school events to expand the awareness and education around these issues. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any interest or ideas about showing this installation in other venues.
The completion of Paseo is also an opportunity to build more interest in my offerings and to focus on other activities. I have now officially launched “Escuela Sol Feliz” by augmenting my website “Services” page and offering my first online webinar. My regular readers will notice I have a new web address affiliated with my new endeavor and can now be found at escuelasolfeliz.com. My first online webinar called “Acequia Culture 101” and is scheduled for Monday, October 2 from 6 to 8 PM. For more information on that, please click here.