1. the practice of living as a parasite in or on another organism.
2. habitual reliance on or exploitation of others.
Colonization is a forceful embedding of a foreign prevalent belief system and material culture.
During the Spanish colonization of South America, a new material was imposed as a form of currency. The extrinsic value and belief system shaped the contemporary traditions of the region. The Spondylus shell was the currency used by precolombian communities located in the Pacific coast of Ecuador. The object not only represented monetary value, but cultural and religious values as well. The casted bronze represents gold, currency of the Spanish Empire, slowly consuming the Spondylus i.e. its host, until it is fully assimilated.
Culture is embedded in objects, the duality between the Spondylus shell and gold serves as an example of how deeply intertwined the notion of value is with identity. If currency is defined as a mutually agreed value structure, what is colonization if not cultural parasitism? A forceful implementation of a new reality, exploitation of native resources and appropriation of material culture by a foreign organism.
Materials: intervened Spondylus shell, lost-wax casted bronze (“gold")
Dimensions: 5.25” x 5.25” x 4.50”
For more than 50 years, Ecuador has been subject of foreign exploitation of its petroleum reserves. Since 1964, Chevron-Texaco and many other north american companies have been responsible of the construction of refineries, the extraction of its resources and the “safe” disposal of petroleum waste. The vast majority of crude oil springs are located in the provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana, in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. Such provinces, are the reminiscences of the violation of environmental and human rights, which until date, no one has been held accountable for.
During the oil boom in the mid 60s, the Ecuadorian government assigned American company Texaco to apply modern day oil drilling technology in the exploitation of the newly discovered springs in the Amazon rainforest. The company focused their petroleum drilling and refinery construction in the northeast region of the Amazon; where isolated indigenous tribes such as the Cofán, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa and Huaorani sustained a harmonious lifestyle within the region’s ecosystem. Throughout the years, Texaco cut operational expenses that would later develop in one of the worst environmental catastrophes in history. Billions of gallons of toxic waste disposed into water streams, millions of gallons of crude oil spilled and hazardous residues left in hundreds of non-isolated open-air pits.
After 28 years, Texaco removed its workers and facilities from the region. Each oil spring exploited has open-air pits located around the area, which function is to contain the waste that the drilling generates. The correct way to handle this pits, is to cover them with an isolating material that prevents the toxic waste to return to the soil and contaminate the water streams nearby. From the 336 oil springs that the Texaco exploited, there are 880 open-air pits without proper protection to isolate the oil residues. The improper handling of crude oil waste has taken more than 1041 indigenous lives and the disappearance of two ancestral tribes: Tetetes and Sansahuari, all deaths due to cancer.