Image view: Panama City. Performance at Ciudad Multiple project. Curated by Adriene Samos and Gerardo Mosquera
On 18 March 2003, the sensationalist tabloid LA CRITICA (Panama based newspaper) published one of its most intriguing news items. This time it was not about someone choking to death on a mamon pit (a tropical fruit similar to litchi), or a man who fell asleep under a bus that ran him over. In this case, the headline read: “Incredible! Panamanian’s will be able to ski in San Felipe”.
The article was referring to my performance project, Abstraction in November, an ice skating rink built with large blocks of ice, right in the middle of Plaza de Francia, in Panama’s historic quarter where very low-income families live side by side with rich ones.
In order to achieve what so many regards as an impossible dream in a tropical climate, I resorted to simple, rudimentary techniques, using ordinary elements found in the city. Without a large budget, complicated engineering or sophisticated machinery, the rink was constructed out of approximately 150 large blocks of ice. This allowed a part of the population to enjoy a winter activity for several hours despite the fact that the thermometer read 30 degrees Celsius that afternoon.
Our creativity is our best tool, it gives us the ability to abstract ourselves and be a tourist in our own city. Ice Skating in the tropics or have warm days at the North pole. “Panama is a country where a white Christmas means pine trees imported from Canada adorned with cotton ornaments simulating snow along with several overdressed Panamanians in Santa-Klaus drenched in sweat. With this project, I did not only celebrate and ironize this phenomenon, but I also wanted to give people an experience they had longed for and never expected to see.