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sOlar seeding

(2020-in progress)

Lenka Holìková and Ulises Matamoros

  • Mixed Media

A circular device, which making analogy to the "solar star", floats on a body of water (that in Latin America is called jagüey); "this solar disk" is placed in March, inside the empty jagüey and ascends with the rain as the jagüey is filled: electronic devices measure the time of filling with "variables" of temperature and humidity. In October the water reaches its highest level, and the dry season returns: this solar disk feeds crops on its surface by taking the water stored in the jagüey. The discs also record the rate of descent in the dry season.


"sOlar seeding" is a project by Ulises Matamoros Ascención and Lenka Holíková that is developed in a specific site in the community of Santa Inés Ahuatempan through the link with "Chasen Thajni, the house of all": an independent community space, Built in a collaborative way by members of the Ngiba population, to offer diverse artistic and cultural activities around language and tradition. These activities are primarily aimed at and managed by the community, but open to the general public.





















































































"Jagüeys” are small natural or artificial dams that store water in the rainy season; when the rainy season ends the “jagüeys” are full to the limit, but when the droughts arrive they empty quickly, due to the climatic conditions in the area (semi-arid with temperatures in times of drought reaching 37°), these determinations condition, in addition to the lack of water for human consumption, the lack of water for a certain type of crop that can be grown only in the rainy season.

"sOlar seeding" proposes a possibility of drought resistance through two cores: production (poetic-artistic) and research and training (practical), the latter manages workshops talks and community meetings for water management in “jagüeys”.







The nucleus of production (poetic-artistic), metamorphoses the movement of the solar star and the seasonal cycles by means of a "solar disk" that will be placed before the rainy season when the “jagüey” is dry, this solar disk will ascend with the water that is stored: Electronic devices powered by small solar panels will measure the time of filling and lowering of water with "variables" of temperature and humidity. When the rains are over, but there is water stored in the “jagüey”, the seeds will be planted on concentric rings thought as artificial grooves that are part of the same "solar disk", these rings are filled with three types of earth: black, white and red earth (particular lands of the region).

When the water runs out this circle will return to the initial resting position on the ground, at the bottom of the jagüey and will be recovered to fulfill another cycle. It symbolizes the possibility of "greening" even in times of decay or drought.


I. Formal formation of the "commission for the maintenance of the Jagüey “El Recorte", this commission is composed of artists, participants and collaborators of "Chasen Thajni" and interested community: starting from the collective work, plans and performs various activities of this project.

II. Cleaning and maintenance of the “jagüey” before the rainy season.

III. Site measurement from surveying.

IV. Development of solar disk technology and production.

V. Technological testing and recomposition of dysfunctional elements.


VI. Intervention at the specific site, placing the solar disk in the “jagüey”.

VII. Conduct workshops, trainings and practical exercises for the community:

• Activities conducted by local experts (Ngibas), focusing on traditional water and crop management

• Training by professionals in the field of hydrological and agronomic technologies.

VIII. Recording of activities and production of monthly reports.


I. Solar disk:

• Is a circular sculpture-like device 10 m in diameter by 50 cm.

• Technological description of the solar disk:

o An HT11 temperature sensor

o WET2 soil moisture/hygrometer sensor

o DLSHT35002 air temperature and humidity sensor

o Three micro submersible water pumps that draw water and water the crop on its surface.

o All these devices are controlled by a RASPBERRY PI4 and powered by solar panel located on the surface of the disc.

• Constructive description of the solar disk:

o Bottom layer floats the entire body and is structured by floating plastic hexagons that are mechanically connected. These hexagons will be made exprofeso for this piece from recycled PET plastic.

o The upper layer is a circular structure that is mounted on the floating base and that is made of "cuilotes": endemic material that the Ngibas use to build their houses, is of high strength and of particular lightness, in addition to being flexible. This layer has three circular spaces designed to place pots made of bio textile. o The lining covering the upper layer mentioned above is composed of three levels: A sediment retention mesh/ a geotextile mesh and a red weed-proof mesh (which is placed only where the plantation is not located). o Three circular compartments serve to sow seeds of three plants endemic to the region and essential for local food: corn, beans and squash. These seeds represent a selection of different crops from Santa Inés Ahuatempan. The seeds are planted in the pots and placed in the circles intended for this purpose.


II. Photographic and video records of the artistic intervention.


III. Photographic prints in physical format (various media and printing processes).


IV. A series of 20 graphite drawings on cotton paper.


V. A series of 20 watercolours on cotton paper.


VI. A series of plants and samples of cultivated seeds displayed in wooden boxes, as minimalist objects.


VII. Tables and graphs visually representing the information collected by the electronic devices installed in the solar circle.

From pre-Hispanic times, the Ngibas (also called "popolocas") subsist mainly thanks to agriculture. Traditional cultivation consisted and continues to consist of the planting of corn, beans and squash. Planting takes place in the rainy season, only exceptionally are irrigation methods used. There is a strong dependence on the climate cycle whose irregularities come to influence the daily life of the community, by the zero variety of crops in times of drought.

Based on the above, "sOlar seeding" makes a poetic comment regarding seasonal cycles, water and agriculture, but from tangential axes also tries to impact effectively: forming a community of constant work, to be able to act effectively, solving the problem of water scarcity for cultivation through collective work in the local “jagüeys”, but also working to keep them clean and degreased to keep the water that accumulates in rainy time, minimizing the amounts lost by filtration or evaporation. Another tangential axis, is the investigation regarding means to cultivate in the season of droughts, and to diversify the cultivation; resorting to mixed cultivation of plants originating in the region.

Members of the Ngiba Community of Santa Inés Ahuatempan, farmers, peasants, professionals in the field of indigenous hydrology and agronomy of the community, and all people interested in maintaining the “jagüeys” for their collective use and common good; as well as people interested in growing native species for domestic use.

The Project is designed and managed by members of the Ngiba community, who particularly inhabit the neighborhoods of San Antonio Tierra Negra and Tierra Colorada, neighborhoods historically excluded, even by the “Mexicas”, before the Spanish arrival. The gender dimension caused and continues to cause double exclusion, particularly among women, limiting their activity to domestic work and excluding them from all political activity. This project enriches the work and the areas of action and transformation of their environment, by adding a little to the difficult task of freedom, equity and decisionmaking in areas that are traditionally delegated to the "male"

Traditional cultures, including Ngiba culture, have knowledge and knowledge of enormous value. His outlook on life, the environment, nature, is mystical; it is not based on science, as the Western world does. Its vision is unimaginable for institutionalized knowledge, and can bring enrichment, providing original solutions and other ways of development from its traditional work: for example, the solution to management, water treatment and harvesting

We start from ancestral knowledge, posed by the members of the community themselves, to connect them with current practices and provide local resolutions, which affect the global, such as the problems of drought and the evaporation of water in “jagüeys”, in such a way, members of the community will not be forced to drastically modify their traditional practices or replace them with a task foreign to their culture and thinking; they will simply enrich their way of working, make it more effective, without abandoning its essence. The connection of these two different perspectives can generate symbolic, cultural and economic exchanges.

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