Sebastian Terrones - Del Paraiso Terrenal al #paradise

“And when I arrived to this cape, the smell of flowers or trees of the earth was so good and sweet , I can asure it was the sweetest thing in the world. […]

A beautiful land full of different trees in a thousand ways and endless palms. […]

And after dawn many of these men came to the beach, all young men, all of good stature, and very beautiful [...] They must be good servers […]

Because I believe that there is the Paradise on Earth, where nobody can reach, except by divine will [...]"

Christopher Columbus

 

Sebastian Terrones (b. Cancun)  used his recent research on the Anthropocene as a starting point for his new project “From Earthly Paradise to #Paradise”, comparing the colonial past to today’s Tulum as a case study of the axis of power that structures this New Age of Man. Focusing specifically on the historical use of aesthetics as a colonial tool, he analysed the paradisial imaginary devised and exploited by Christopher Columbus and other colonial actors in relation to their experiences in the Caribbean and the repercussions that these encounters have had on the modern perception of Nature and humanity, relating them to the contemporary aesthetics of the destructive boom of the tourism industry and Tulum’s new wave of ‘eco-chic’ tourism.

 

The history and scars of colonialism, as well as the coloniality of power caused by them, are still very much present in the local area, Sebastian’s project for AKI AORA manifested in the form of a lecture-performance cum dining experience, a collaboration between the local market food stall “Las Veracruzanas” in the town’s central market that predominantly residents but also tourists frequent. He conceived a delicious four course meal ironically named “Paradise Delights”, based on the structure of a mexican “comidas corridas”, a kind of healthy traditional fast food meal, accessible for all people, with a menu full of witty nods to contemporary and historical colonialism in the descriptions of the ingredients, with course titles such as “Bittersweet Encounter Soup” and “White Industry”, to be consumed by those in the market whilst listening to his accompanying lecture.

 

As we ate he linked Columbus on one side, to contemporary Tulum on the other,  drawing parallels with Tulum tourist industry’s paraphernalia and the use of words like ‘eco-chic’ to attract tourists with Columbus’ cultivated concept of ‘paradise’ - his aesthetic constructions strategically devised to sell the idea of colonising the Americans back to the Spaniards.  Drawing our attention to Tulum tourist slogans and aesthetics to be as questioned and deconstructed as Columbus’ imagery, Tulum suggestive of an almost second wave of colonialism, with a very similar fetishisation of paradise, that is again accompanied with the same promise of boosting the economy and of ‘progress’ that the “Conquistadores” suggested.

 

“What is Tourism and its contemporary paradises, other than a exponential perpetuation, both in form and in operation, of the same colonial white task started more than 500 years ago?

 

An extractive monoculture that turns everything that it touches into empty static images, unlinked from the territories and local organic cultures, intended only to satisfy the sensory pleasure and visibility of a few.”

 

Some of the locals followed the call for free food and then realized it was also a performance on these themes. As Terrones developed his lecture he wrapped the accouterments of tourism over his body, objects that had a direct relationship between this contemporary industry and Columbus’ diaries’ appointments, hammocks, t-shirts with full breasted women emblazoned on them, a large woven structure similar to built structures used in the fabrics of these instagram / eco-chic aesthetics, until he was fully concealed, weighed down and made anonymous and unable to continue the storytelling by these culturally appropriated and populist garb.


 

PARADISE DELIGHTS

 

Serving #1

 

BITTERSWEET ENCOUNTER SOUP

 

Vegetable and ammunition soup, served in a red blood broth of tomato, beet and turmeric, accompanied by three white caravels of hard boiled egg and a touch of sugar cane.

 

Serving #2

GREEN INFERNO RICE

 

A tropicalization of the traditional dish "Moors with Christians", composed of a tasteless white rice, stirred and embroiled by a frenzy of various, inflamed flavors of chaya, a mixture of different vegetables and a touch of habanero pepper in constant rebellion.

 

Serving #3

 

WHITE INDUSTRY

 

A immaculate monolith of panela cheese, cemented over an abundant puddle of privileges of petroleum black mole, with tonal accents of constant exploitation, racism and environmental degradation.

 

Desert (either A or B)

 

A) WHITE ON RED

 

More of the same thing. White bread without crust, supported by a constant stain of blood red jam.

 

B) CANDY OF UTOPIA

 

A taste of sweet utopia, elaborated from the collective effort of multiple living beings and stories of long-term resistance.