Azuma Makoto’s Installation In Sync with its Surrounding
The Mexx by Japanese botanical artist Azuma Makoto is an immersive site-specific installation at arts centre SFER IK located in the jungle outside of Tulum, Mexico, created in response to the centre’s stunning biophilic design.
SFER IK is an interdisciplinary arts centre founded by renowned social entrepreneur and visionary, Roth. SFER IK says that it offers a unique space to discover the symbiotic relationship between nature, art and ancestry. Under the leadership of its new director Marcello Dantas, the institution reopened on March 18, 2022, with the immersive, site-specific installation The Mexx by Japanese botanical artist Azuma Makoto. The exhibition will continue till the flowers and greens wilt away, and as of now, they are thriving.
Azuma’s largest work to date, Mexx was created in response to SFER IK’s unique biophilic design and the surrounding wilderness. Made from locally-sourced materials similar to those involved in the museum’s construction—vines, concrete, and fiberglass—the sculpture composes an enormous array of live indigenous flowers to paint a picture of the country’s biological wealth.
Over the course of the exhibition, the work will bloom into the museum space, blurring the line between man-made and natural expressions through the lens of the traditional Japanese conception of negative space—or ‘Ma’ (間).
As much a performance as an artifact, at its core, Mexx asks if an artificial ecosystem can reach symbiosis and harmonise with nature. After dismantling the installation, SFER IK and Azuma will donate all living flowers to the local community.
“When conceptualizing Mexx, I was inspired by the unique architecture of SFER IK. It is made by humans but done in unique dialogue with the jungle,” says Azuma. “The museum itself feels like an organism, and I wanted to create a new biophilic encounter between species within it that will naturally evolve overtime.”
Azuma is known for his audacious and wide-ranging innovations across the realm of botanical sculpture. Born into art with a punk sensibility, the Tokyo-based artist regularly defies and redefines the mythology surrounding exhibition spaces, most famously through his series EXOBIOTANICA where he launched a bouquet of flowers into space. Defined too often by his more radical expressions, however, Azuma’s grounds his practice in a subtle reverence for the fleeting nature of life. In 2009, he founded the botanical studio AMKK with his long-time friend, collaborator, and photographer Shunsuke Shiinoki to draw out the ethos of his work through experimentation in sculpture and performance. The artist finds a sympathetic home at SFER IK, an institution similarly dedicated to engaging and reaching other species through creation.
An example of biomorphic architecture, the museum SFER IK was built to incorporate the nature that surrounds it, acting as a shelter of co-existence for fauna and flora, as well as contemporary design. Its architecture seamlessly weaves in native trees, vines and natural wildlife and has been constructed solely out of three locallysourced and sustainable materials – vines, cement, and fiberglass. Ernest Neto was the first artist to exhibit there, debuting new work for the unique space when it opened in late 2019.