A swarm of 104 robotic monarch butterflies are programmed to respond to seismic frequencies. Monarchs, which have suffered rapid decline, are the only species to migrate between Mexico and Canada annually. Palma Rodríguez’s installation, Cihuapapalutzin, questions our unwavering faith in technology and the perception that it will save us from catastrophic climate change. Tocihuapaplutzin in the Nahuatl language means “our revered lady butterfly.” Divided into two groups of 52, the installation references a ceremony marking the completion of a natural cycle, linking the secular and sacred calendars (365 and 260 days, respectively) in Mesoamerican society.

Production Assistance: Fidel Edgar Espinoza Martinez.

Commissioned by the Toronto Biennial of Art.


Fernando Palma Rodríguez (born in Atocpan-San Pedro, Mexico; lives in Mexico City, Mexico) combines his training as an artist and mechanical engineer to create robotic sculptures that utilize custom software to perform complex, narrative choreographies. His works respond to issues facing indigenous communities in Mexico, addressing human and land rights, violence, and urgent environmental crises. Palma Rodríguez lives in the agricultural region of Milpa Alta outside Mexico City, where he runs Calpulli Tecalco, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Nahua language and culture.


  • Accessibility

    259 Lake Shore Blvd East

    Accessible entrance and washrooms
    AODA compliant building
    Accessible parking

  • Getting There

    259 Lake Shore Blvd East

    By Public Transportation: The TTC offers three bus routes – the 6, 72, and 75 – within a short walking distance of 259 Lakeshore Blvd.

    By Car:

    • Coming from the West: Follow Gardiner Expressway E to the Jarvis Street exit. Keep right and follow the signs for Lake Shore Blvd E eastbound. Turn right onto Lower Sherbourne Street, then left onto Queens Quay E, where the destination is on the left.
    • Coming from the East:Take Lake Shore Blvd E eastbound towards the downtown core. Turn left onto Parliament St, and continue onto Queens Quay E, where the destination is on the right.