Repúblicas (Republics) series of 100+ installations at Simón Bolivar’s House-Museum. Bronze paint, organic matter and coins.
Pasolini’s Gospel According to St. Matthew confuses the intellect just as much as this piece confused my colleagues in 2006, when they witnessed a queer artist celebrating a military leader’s legacy of emancipation. But someone had to do that job and it felt just as something natural to me: I didn’t have money to pay for the ticketed museum entry so I stand by the entrance, grabbed a fallen leave from the ground, brought it to the studio, painted it with real currency colors and proposed my future project to the city cultural agency. When I got financial support from the city I also got free entrance to Simon Bolivar’s gardens and home collection. I gained access to the historical legacy of the country I was born. Also, I didn’t know that at the time but I was about to do something that felt really urgent: to picture the myth beyond the means of the colonial institution of capital. I was about to materialize the dream. To fantasize with it. At some point after the show opened, low-income public school groups with hundreds of kids where playing with the coins and throwing them to the garden’s pond. They wouldn’t have their own money to throw into a pond but they used my city-grant money to do so. And they dreamed too. They played around finding what they called treasures. The treasures of a golden but just a tiny little republic. They dreamed to be lucky. I did too. And we all emancipated ourselves with those thousand coins, not even as valuable as the US cent coins. In doing so the myth became reachable, the idol became familiar, the glory became joy, the power and their symbols became mundane and ephemeral. Some of my confused colleagues insisted that the power of the work relied on the decay of the piece (as exposed to the elements they faded quickly and had to be remade––just as a metaphor of our country in permanent conflict). But the piece was powerful and beautiful just because it showed us a golden dream and we were feeling truly part of it, if only for a moment.