Álvaro Urbano


Hotel Gazmira




Canary Islands




Metal, paint, and artificial light

Credits: TEA Collection

The artist and architect Álvaro Urbano explores the similarities between the tourism industry and the banana market as two neo-colonial, extractive economies that depend on the consumption of the tertiary sector, which makes their sustainability impossible. Hotel Gazmira investigates the history of the hotel of the same name designed by Rubens Henríquez in the 1960s in the Canary Islands. The lack of investors frustrated the project, and only the structure was constructed while the rest of the building  remained unfinished. Using decontextualized vegetation, displaced from its natural habitat, as a decoration for hotels in tourist destinations traditionally associated with the subaltern and exoticized, epitomizes modern architecture’s desire to dominate nature. Hotel Gazmira expected to benefit from the region’s burgeoning intensive banana cultivation and was named after Francisca de Gazmira, an indigenous woman who mediated the surrender of the Canary Islands to the Crown of Castile in the 15th century. Henríquez’s architectural design appealed to a neo-tropical imaginary that emphasized the strong historical and cultural links between the Canary Islands, Cuba, and Venezuela. The leaves of the banana plant tossed on the floor of the gallery under fluorescent lamps represent the failure of utopian thinking in architecture but also in the independence movements in Latin America.