The Japanese artist responds to the unique architecture of the inspirational museum and the surrounding Mayan jungle at AZULIK UH MAY
Francisco Uh May, Mexico | February 9, 2022 — Located in the jungle outside of Tulum, Mexico, SFER IK is an interdisciplinary arts center founded by renowned social entrepreneur and visionary, Roth. Under the leadership of its new director Marcello Dantas, the institution will reopen on March 18, 2022, with the immersive, site-specific installation The Mexx by Japanese botanical artist Azuma Makoto. The exhibition will run until September 7, 2022.
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 harmonize 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.
Mexx will be accompanied by innovative events and performances developed by Dantas presented across the artistic hub of AZULIK UH MAY as well as the project space SFER IK TULUM located next to the famed AZULIK hotel.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
About Azuma Makoto
Azuma Makoto has been in the flower business since 2002 and is an owner of the haute-couture floral shop, JARDINS des FLEURS in Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo. In addition to the flower shop business, Azuma began to explore the expressive potential of flowers and plants in 2005. He invented the genre of ‘botanical sculpture,’ which is one of his formative expressions. Following a solo exhibition in in New York, his audacious works have been repeatedly shown in Europe and the U.S. While launching the experimental floral and botanical lab AMKK in 2009, he went on to exhibit his works at art museums, galleries and public spaces in all over the world. In recent years, Azuma has been focusing on projects that explore the connections between human beings and flowers. He continues to pursue the beauty of plants from his distinctive point of view.
About SFER IK
Founded by the visionary architect and social entrepreneur Roth, SFER IK is a new museum located in the ancient Mayan village of Francisco Uh May, 30 miles from Tulum, Mexico. The centerpiece of AZULIK UH MAY (or ‘The City of Arts’), a sprawling 10-acre creative complex nestled in the heart of the jungle, SFER IK offers a unique space to discover the symbiotic relationship between nature, art and ancestry. An example of biomorphic architecture, the museum 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 locally-sourced 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. SFER IK paused most exhibition activities almost immediately after its launch due to the global pandemic but will reopen in March 2022 under the new direction of Marcello Dantas.
About AZULIK UH MAY
AZULIK UH MAY, ‘The City of Arts’, is a creative journey nestled deep in the heart of the Mayan jungle outside of Tulum, Mexico. It is part of a unique originative concept designed by Roth, Founder and CEO of AZULIK, to elevate human vision and evolution through wider initiatives around hospitality, wellness, gastronomy, art, fashion, architecture and design. AZULIK UH MAY’s innovative proposal is articulated around a three-fold invitation to connect, create and celebrate through its onsite museum SFER IK, its restaurant Jungle Cuisine and byRoth Workshops, AZULIK’s multidisciplinary onsite creative team spread across cutting-edge artisan studios that link ancestral practices with avant-garde techniques and visionary design, as well as innovative artist residencies. Through its sister hotel AZULIK in Tulum, that houses an attached project space for art called SFER IK TULUM, AZULIK UH MAY achieves a unique reinterpretation of destination travel as an initiatory journey where visitors become members of a global nomadic tribe of extraordinary sophistication.