[Photos: M.Laura Benavente Sovieri]

Still standing, the ruins of Gazmira re-emerge every morning, detached, perched above the small town below. Like a strange monument dedicated to something nobody no longer remembers. Whoever approaches it will find a structure halfway between a honeycomb and a molecule. Even today, one can still glimpse the zigzagging road along which trucks used to pass, like hardworking insects transporting cement and wood. The ultimate purpose of this road, once the construction works were finished, was to take tourists and visitors to the flamboyant never-finished hotel.The way up to this acropolis should be a ritual, as if it were some kind of carefully-planned tracking shot. Once you got to the top, from the roof terraces, from the swimming pool, from the rooms, you would end up completely controlling the entire fertile valley of banana plantations below. And thus, we would be able to bask in the self-satisfying glow of endless progress.

What we are visiting now is a specular Gazmira. It takes place in an imprecise time. Similar to a large part of Álvaro Urbano’s work, it is only a moment, just a fleeting moment yet one that is nevertheless too long.The disconcerting lapse of time in which, on waking up from a deep sleep, we don’t really know whether it is day or night. We don’t manage to know where the dim light is coming or going. Nor can we recognize the place which, while apparently familiar, seems completely new to us. It is a lumpy time, and it is precisely here, with our senses on alert but with our consciousness dulled, when Urbano dissects the architecture, not so much because he is fascinated by the form or by the project, but more to make us partake in desire as its driving motor. In his installations, at the intersection between sculpture, painting and film, different stories seem to overlap kaleidoscopically. And so, we listen to the echo of something that could have been and of what should have happened. Here is also where each one of the plants is carefully chosen as a new narrative. The castor oil plants and poppies that grow along the edges of farms, along ditches, in the scant few square meters left around tool sheds, or outside the little gardens set aside by farms. Only there where nothing else can be produced. Those places not taken over by the unstoppable green blanket of banana plantations.

When, all of a sudden, the enthusiasm dried up, the hotel stopped spreading over the top of Tenisca. In fact, this mountain is an extinct cone, an accumulation of volcanic slag violently thrown out during one of the many eruptions on the island. An accumulation of material that still today is being tirelessly devoured to create new malpaíses, but also to mix with the aggregates used to reinforce the concrete in Gazmira. An endless cycle of self-cannibalism and rebirth. An eternal spring, an eternal adolescence.

[Text: Gilberto González]

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