portfolio > Cuba + Puerto Rico | Invitación a Volar

The Influence of Sea Power Upon History
The Influence of Sea Power Upon History
2013

Inkjet prints
6 x 9 in (15 x 23 cm) each

Part of a series, these photographic performances, feature a copy of The Influence of Sea Power Upon History having been carefully posed against the sand and rocks on a beach in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. The beach was located adjacent to the city's legislative Capitol building, with remnants of the former city wall, miscellaneous consumer detritus, and men cruising for sex making up the scene. The book was a celebration of nineteenth-century maritime culture written in 1890 by Alfred Thayer Mahan, which served as a canonical justification for the aggressive expansion of overseas possessions, the construction of foreign military bases in occupied (or heavily dependent) territories, and the proliferation of U.S. naval supremacy--in short, a manual for colonization.

In an act of "high-romance" inspired by Argentinean artist Amalia Pica, this seminal, and eventually destructive text, was carried across the Atlantic Ocean and deposited on a Puerto Rican shore--bringing the romanticized images of imperialism found within the book into direct contact with a land that has been uniquely affected by its devastating implications.

The contrived setup of attempting to make this newly printed book (borrowed from the library of an institute for higher education in Boston) appear to have been left behind and forgotten in Puerto Rico, underscores the painful colonial dilemma that still exists in what many refer to as "The Oldest Colony".