During the construction of the National Museum of Anthropology (1963-1964), when it was already stated that the Tlaloc monolith would be brought in to Mexico City from Coatlinchan, Texcoco, architect Pedro Ramirez Vázquez made a prototype of the monumental figure to see in which part of the museum it should be installed. Photographs that document the model show that it was an artwork itself: a sculpture made to scale, conformed by flat sheets, hollow on the inside. The curves of Tlaloc’s original carvings were simplified and abstracted, resulting in a temporary sculpture that mixed the aesthetics of Mexican geometrical modernism with that of Nahua art.
Tlaloc’s story is full of qualms: the initial confusion about the identity of the monolith where its wasn’t certain if it was Tlaloc or his feminine counterpart Chalchiuhtlicue, its removal from Coatlinchan to be installed at Paseo de la Reforma, the torrential rains that flooded the city as it was being brought in, the substitution of the stone by a replica in its original place in order to converting it into a monument that no longer represents the deity in its town, but the National Museum of Anthropology.
“Piedra Temporal / Temporary stone” takes as its parting point that model made of Tlaloc and the monolith’s history, as well as the techniques of display employed to exhibit anthropological artifacts in museums throughout the country. Through it, the artist duo Sangree connect concepts of the cinematographic stage, the amusement park, pre-Columbian construction and figure imaginary, advertising’s visual language, the disposable, the fake, and the real. In their fragmentation of objects, iconographies, and concepts we see how the robotic figure with pre-Columbian-modernist aesthetic from the Ramírez Vázquez model are transformed into a surreal chamber of Tlaloc, who is not just the god of water, but water and thunder itself, he is not a monolith he is a phenomenon.