site specific installation, orange peel, wooden stick, 200 x 250 cm, 2018
As luck would have it, in my old mantle I’d kept one of the oranges, the fruit of the tree Guerrero I planted here [in Mexico]. I showed it to him as if for a moment I was the King
of Coins in our Spanish playing cards: I had the sun in my hands. Could any image verify a Spaniard’s identity better than the sight of a man eating an orange?
Carlos Fuentes, The Orange Tree, transl. by Alfred McAdam, New York 1994
The orange is one of the symbols of the conquest and colonisation of Mexico by Europeans. Seeds of the fruit commonly grown in Spain were brought to America by Christopher Columbus in 1493 during his second voyage. Over hundreds of years, the production of oranges in Latin and South America developed, ultimately altering the direction of fruit exports. Verbatim and metaphorically, the act of carrying and planting “seeds” in distant lands with different cultures is tantamount to expansion, adaptation to new life, and nostalgia for home.
The symbolic expression and meaning of the orange orb, also referred to as “the golden apple”, have been reshaped over time, venue and cultural context pending. In socialist Poland, oranges were a rare and luxurious produce. They were available in shops shortly before Christmas, their purchase usually requiring a wait in lengthy queues in the bitter cold – hence the unending recipes advising the use of every last bit of the fruit, peel included.
The orange peel I used to create the Juicy installation is nothing but useless waste left over after the fruit has been used to squeeze juice. Peeling citrus fruit with the use of a special device is typical for Chiapas, the region where the work was created. The daily ritual can be observed from early morning hours, when juice vendors begin preparing soft drinks on street corners in the town of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Peel is removed in long, narrow ribbons, falling in a fragrant, entangled mass.
I used the material in attempts to plait and weave in reference to the local arts and crafts tradition. My efforts yielded a “fabric” profuse with energising orange fragrance, hung on the outer patio of one of the colonial homes in San Cristóbal de Las Casas – where, depending on the whims of the weather, it was scorched with the sun or soaked through with rain.