Tamarind seeds, pot, soil, plant light, public performance
On the 64th Anniversary of the 1932 Lares uprising, Pedro Albizu Campos, influential Puerto Rican nationalist/independence fighter, planted a simple, yet highly symbolic Tamarind plant in this revolutionary city's central plaza. The plant had been transported to Puerto Rico from South America, where it had been growing in a garden belonging to the liberator of Latin America, Simón Bolívar. This plant and its bittersweet fruit were chosen by Albizu to represent the continental struggle for self-determination still facing Latin America despite a few supposed gains.
This piece, created specifically for the neighborhood of Villa Victoria, seeks to reignite public dialogue regarding Latin American independence, and what that looks like an increasingly globalized market economy. While the majority of Latin America is considered to be sovereign and independent, years of economic and cultural imperialism, along with traditional forms of colonization (such as those found in Puerto Rico's "Commonwealth" status and the occupation of Guantanamo in Cuba), create an atmosphere in which the goals of Bolívar and Albizu Campos should be revisited and critically explored.
The artist's attempt to grow this tropical fruit tree (as a symbol of resistance) in the less-than-ideal New England climate and within this neighborhood of Puerto Rican diaspora, has an allegorical parallel to the complexities of educating members of said community about their dense, revolutionary history, which has been largely suppressed from them by the metropole's informational channels.
The artist also transplanted several small Tamarind trees throughout various locations around Villa Victoria, a symbolic reminder for residents to consider whether/to what extent their native land is free from colonial interference.