Francois Bucher


United and Chiquita (Edition of 3)






25 × 34 cm


12 RC photographs on aluminium

The pieces United and Chiquita belong to the “Año cero” series created by Colombian artist, François Bucher, between 2004 and 2005. “Año cero” explores certain moments in history that have marked a turning point in the course of events (the fall of the Berlin wall, for example). In United and Chiquita, the main incident is the massacre of the banana workers in the municipal of Ciénaga, Magdalena, in 1928, when scores of workers of the United Fruit Company were killed by the conservative army of Colombia for organising a strike to call for better working conditions. The piece also makes reference to the subsequent murder of the lawyer, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, counsel for the workers that died.

In United, Bucher has captured a sequence of twelve photos of a banana with the word “United” written on its peel. In the first image the banana appears ripe, intact and ready to eat. The following snapshots show the effect of the passing of time: the banana gets darker and deteriorates as it naturally oxidises. Similarly, the word “United” becomes clearer and clearer on the surface of the banana, since the cuts in the flesh become deeper as it softens. In the last shot, the banana is black and the inscription covers almost the entire fruit.

Bucher’s work symbolically illustrates how a historical event changes with the passing of time, irremediably altering the subject that has suffered it. In this case, the banana alludes not only to the tragedies suffered in the banana plantations, but also to the polity of Colombia and the history of violence that the country carries. As the artist demonstrates, far from disappearing, the trauma deepens with the passing of time and the memory’s scar is permanent.

In Chiquita, Bucher executes a similar operation, documenting the process of putrefaction of a banana with the word “Chiquita” carved in it, in reference to the brand Chiquita Brands International, created when the United Fruit Company opted for a change of name and image in the 1970s, thus showing how the multinational banana company’s history of abuse is perpetuated.