MEXICO CITY — They look like images from a science fiction movie, gigantic white roots invading emblematic spots around the Mexican capital, crawling across stone plazas and snaking from windows of colonial buildings.
"Raices," or "Roots," is a new public exhibit by Mexican artist Rivelino, designed to provoke reflection about the nation's past.
Collectively weighing about 28 metric tons, and extending three-quarters of a mile (1.2 kilometers) in length, the roots are manufactured with an interior of steel and covered in polyurethane and fiberglass.
The exhibit was inaugurated Wednesday night and will be on display through the end of February at 14 historic sites around the city including the Palacio de Bellas Artes, or Fine Arts Palace, and the National Museum of Art.
Some of the roots are installed at the Plaza of Three Cultures, which brings together elements of Mexico's indigenous past, the Spanish conquest and the modern mix of the two. The plaza was the site of a 1968 government massacre of students and other protesters.
"It's about questioning who we are; it's about trying to make a point about historical events," said Rivelino, whose full name is Jose Rivelino Moreno Valle.
Other sites being used include the 18th century Corpus Christi Convent and the Revolution Monument.
Installation of the exposition took more than 48 continuous hours of work and the help of 250 previously trained volunteers.
Alejandra Gilling, coordinator of open galleries for Mexico City's Culture Department, said "Raices" is the largest exposition installed in the capital since the capital's public art program was launched in 2006.
"Raices" follows "Nuestros Silencios," or "Our Silences," another monumental work that Rivelino installed in 2011 in the Zocalo, Mexico City's central plaza. It had been displayed earlier in various European cities over two years.
"Nuestros Silencios" explored freedom of expression through 10 bronze sculptures weighing about a ton each.
Rivelino says "Raices" is a natural outgrowth of the previous project. While he characterizes "Nuestros Silencios" as a closed emotion, he says Raices "is completely open."
The project cost about 8 million (nearly $600,000) and was financed without any public funds — a major reason it gained government support.
"Rivelino presented us with a project that was 100 percent financed," Gilling said. "It seems to us that it has quality, that it's going to have a great impact on the public."
Artist's site: www.rivelino.com.mx
Isaac Garrido on Twitter at http://twitter.com/igarridoAP.