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Futuros Fugaces: Xochipilli Magic

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Edgar Xochitl is the farm manager at Hummingbird Farm. I first heard Xoch at another of community space stewarded by PODER, el Jardin Secreto in the Mission, speaking on queer ecology. Queer ecology gave me a new language for understanding the world around me, beyond the binary of Linnaean plant classification. In our interview, Xoch talked about what we wanted to keep from our ancestral traditions, and where we needed to look beyond, or what suppressed knowledges we needed to raise up. Thinking of the ancient Mayan and Aztec cosmologies, formed by their own empires and patriarchies, and our understandings of them today shaped by colonial influence, I tried to find where the queer magic could be found. Xochipilli stood out as a trickster within the Aztec pantheon, who somehow snuck in, upholding queerness and fun and flower magic. The sky above the Magic Donut place is an image of Xochipilli from the back of an old Mexican 100 peso bill. Here is more wisdom from Edgar Xochitl.

Somehow, I knew Magic Donuts would make it into this series. Like the Armory, this is an image I’ve wanted to work on for a long time. The sign is gone now, as is the donut shop. When I moved to SF in the 90s, it was still the place where late night punks, homeless folks, and cops on a donut run convened to create a certain kind of fluorescent-lit magic 25 hours into the night. Before it was “Magic Donuts,” it was “Hunt’s,” where the Mission’s revolutionary organization from the late 60s/early 70s, Los Siete de la Raza, sold their newspaper to educate the masses. Thank you to Vero Majano and to Erica Dawn Lyle’s excellent Scam! for sharing the history of Hunt’s.

Futuros Fugaces was a way to explore themes and relationships that have concerned me for a long time: what it means to reclaim ancestral knowledge, how we re-imagine the future, and what this looks like in the particular of the Mission/Excelsior Latinx community I’ve worked with for the last 30 years. Thanks to the SF Arts Commission for funding my first Individual Artist Grant.

In imagining a Latinx futurism, the project took me in unexpected directions, beyond a more literal extrapolation of futurism, to a more mythical layering of Mesoamerican imagery as a way to connect past and future cosmic time. The emergent utopias of our communities of color will not be sterile or sanitized; they will contain hints of the dystopias we’re already living through, and they will contain the messiness and contradictions of our cultures, a collage of rasquachismo, rooted in a reclamation of ancestral traditions and collective memory to urban land struggles and queer ecologies. As I thought of a Latinx futurism, the cyclical nature of Mesoamerican time, cyclical, perhaps helical, expanding outward but always returning. Or perhaps it is a simultaneity of times, layered in parallel existences informing the present, accessible through ritual and ceremony. Mesoamerican time gave me a layering of myth and history and contemporary cultures and utopian visions. Utopia has to coexist with the present, accessible through our cultural practices and our arts, to inform our actions. Glimpses or shadows of that utopia found their way into these images.

The images were created in pencil, scanned to create the line drawing, then watercolored and scanned again, and additional colors and backgrounds applied digitally in Photoshop. They were printed as giclée digital fine art reproductions at East Bay Giclée in North Oakland.