Karlo Andrei Ibarra






Puerto Rico




Table made of wood from packing materials for agricultural products, bunches of bananas, tattooing machine

On various occasions, including the Trienal Poligráfica in 2011, and at an event organized by TEOR/éTica in 2012, the Puerto Rican artist Karlo Andrei Ibarra carried out a performance that involved tattooing a number of phrases on the green skins of bunches of bananas.  These phrases referred to the negative effects of free trade agreements between the regions producing extractive goods (such as bananas) and the consumer economies of the Northern Hemisphere.  The artist took phrases from arrangements agreed upon in the USMCA (US-Mexico-Canada Agreement) and inscribed them using a careful tattooing process using a professional machine.  The skin of the fruit references human skin, and how certain decisions agreed-upon in political terms are implanted on the skin of the local workers who continue to be harmed by the decisions of others.  This work is an ephemeral action: after the artist finishes tattooing the fruit, the bunches of bananas are left on the table and begin to mature and decompose over time.  The smell of the decomposition activates new senses, while the phrases, written in black ink, start to merge with the new colour of the fruit as it goes through the process of dying.  The decomposition of the fruit not only references this process, but, as the artist explains, appeals for a process of emancipation from one of the most important products in the region.