Leonardo González


From the Series Cabbages and Kings


2016, 2017, 2018






Installation composed of resin and wooden bananas, two films, two screens, steel, banana-yellow paint, and sound

Cabbages and Kings is a multidisciplinary installation that is part of a series of work under the same title, created by the Honduran artist Leonardo González.  Making a reference to the title of a book of William Sydney Porter, (best known as O. Henry), that popularized the notion of the “Banana Republic,” the work highlights the impacts and consequences that were experienced in Central America resulting from the arrival of the banana plantations at the end of the 19th century.  This installation was created in an old United Fruit Company building in Puerto Limón, Costa Rica, a coastal town that became the first urban centre to connect to a section of the new railroad that was destined to transport bananas from the inland Central Valley.  The installation consists of the creation of a bar using waste materials from the company, now named Chiquita Brands, such as baskets and wooden supports.  The bar is important, because it’s known as the place where many of the transactions occurred that led to the introduction and establishment of the banana enclaves of Central America.  In the words of the artist: “These places were the setting and niches for negotiations, crooked schemes involving giant scams and fraudulent loans related to the investments of the banana companies and the construction of the interocean railway in Central America.”  The bar has various components that allude to the problems associated with the banana business.  For example, the main wall is decorated with wallpaper that Gonzáles created using commercial contracts, loan documents, maps, flow charts, and other documents and personal letters from participants of these enclaves.  In front of the bar, where they sell cocktails made from bananas, the artist put tables and chairs made from the same waste material from the Chiquita company.  Also, the “customer” can see screens on the tables displaying videos that narrate the history of the banana boom, its impact and fetishization.  The video uses black humour juxtaposed with violent images of wars, coups d’état, land invasions, and displacement, with images that allude to the social well-being and the economic progress that the cultivation of this fruit would supposedly provide.  The bar was tended by a barman who served cocktails and desserts made of banana, with ironic names that allude precisely to this problematic historical process.  At the bottom are listed some of these:


Banana Foster


  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla ice cream
  • 45 ml of spiced rum
  • 15 ml of banana liquor
  • 1 chopped banana
  • Cinnamon


Banana Double Conquest


  • 45 ml of coconut rum
  • ½ chopped banana
  • 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup
  • ½  cup of vanilla ice cream 


Dirty Banana


  • 30 ml of white rum
  • 60 ml of coffee liquor
  • 1 chopped banana
  • 60 ml of whipped cream
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

On subsequent occasions, González has displayed variations of this work in which he hangs the videos previously embedded in the tables on the wall and surrounds the monitor with bunches of artificial bananas (and in some cases, real bananas) along with waste materials from Chiquita Brands.