Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Todo Viene de Tierra Ajena V"

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“Todo Viene de Tierra Ajena” / “Everything Comes From a Foreign Land”

The title of this piece is borrowed from the chorus of a spiritual song that is used in ceremonies that aim to establish a connection with deceased ancestors.  This spiritual song as well as the many others used at spiritual masses are anonymous and borrow elements and vocabulary from Catholic liturgy, West-African beliefs, and Kardecian Spiritualism. To affirm that everything comes from another land is also a statement on the origins of the different people that make up the population of the new world and a reminder of the constant exchange that permeates contemporary culture.

  The panels read from left to right, the same way western culture thinks of time, as an unfolding line of events.  The endless movement of travelers follows the same direction, towards land at last. Sharks are the exception, which are free to move back in time.  By observing the first panel carefully, one can see La Pinta, La Nina, and La Santa Maria as they approach a ghostly image of a bull, also a Spanish symbol.  

Further down, floating in the murky waters, the Mayflower and the Statue of Liberty can be identified as iconographic American symbols that came from abroad.  In all five panels there is evidence of rafters that tried the treacherous waters and, as part of the under paint, one can see slave ships with their human cargo navigating or, in some cases, broken.  Vikings are depicted in the first three panels.  

  In the last panel, a Native American scout looks out into the horizon to see who is coming.  By placing contemporary American war ships approaching land, history comes full circle.  The Land is America itself and, at the same time, a door into how America is being perceived from other coasts time after time again.  The Native American scout is able to see back in history all the way to the arrival of the Spanish caravelas in the first panel.  He also looks in disbelief at the approaching of American warships in the horizon as the rules of engagement and discovery have changed over time.