From the Desert of San Luis to the helmets of Daft Punk: Huichol art in popular culture

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Lately, Huichol art is everywhere. Rooted in millenary traditions, the colorful representations created by the members of this culture have been steadily penetrating the realm of popular culture.

In 2017, French electronic music duo Daft Punk published a picture of two helmets, quite similar to the ones they always use to perform, except they were entirely covered by tiny beads of many colors, showcasing motives that are typical in Huichol art. But, how did it come to this?

The origin of Huichol art is in the Desert of San Luis Potosi, a northern state of Mexico. The Wixárikas, which is what they actually call themselves, travel from their homes in Jalisco, Nayarit, and Zacatecas, to the area in that desert that they call Wirikuta.

This place is home to the Cerro del Quemado mountain, where the members of this culture perform sacred ceremonies that involve cleansing rituals and the use of peyote, a root that contains a powerful psychedelic. The visions that the Huichol have under the influence of peyote are the inspiration behind the extraordinary art that they create.

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Photo: inkulmagazine

 

Whether embroidered in cloth or united by tiny beads, Huichol art makes use of a wide variety of bright colors and it usually includes representations of the three most important elements in the Wixárika cosmology: maize, deer, and peyote.

In the last decade, Huichol art has been leaking into popular culture at an accelerated rate. The bracelets, earrings and collars made by the Wixárika artisans were no longer hippie accessories, as more and more people from different socioeconomic backgrounds began to wear them.

Things started to escalate when Huichol art was taken out of its original context and went on to appear in the form of modern objects.

The Vochol, for example, was a project developed by the Museum of Popular Art in Mexico City. It was a Volkswagen Sedan –known in Mexico as “vocho”–, completely covered by beads that formed Huichol imagery. It was made by a group of eight Wixárika artisans and went on a tour around the world.

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Photo: autocosmos

 

A few years later, the craze reached the Formula One, as a racing car was specially decorated as a piece of Huichol art for the Mexico City Grand Prix.

But enough about cars. Huichol art has had several other appearances in popular culture, like in these special edition sneakers, signed by a well known brand.

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Photo: RunningLife

 

The Huichol Daft Punk helmets were created by Mexican artist Maz Power, aided by artisan Cesar Menchaca. The artist himself traveled to Los Angeles to gift the helmets to the French musicians, who then went on to share them with the world.

It is fascinating to realize that Huichol art has reached zero degrees of separation from pop music at a global level, but it is only a reflexion of the relationship that it has been developing with popular culture over years.

 

From the Desert of San Luis to the helmets of Daft Punk: Huichol art in popular culture