Blog - Austin - Estados Unidos

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"EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow": a project by Jerónimo Reyes-Retana at Big Medium, USA

Austin, Texas, USA
May 15, 2021 – June 26, 2021

The body of work presented in this exhibition is conceived as the first iteration of an ongoing field research process throughout the community of Playa Bagdad (Tamaulipas, Mex), located a few miles below the US-Mexico border, on the shores of the Mexican Gulf. Up the shoreline—ten miles afar, lays SpaceX’s launching facility of Boca Chica (Texas, US), where the space exploration enterprise is already performing the operational tasks needed to accomplish an ambitious agenda, including a forty thousand satellite-constellation floating in the low-Earth orbit and the colonization of Mars.

Given the nature of its location, Playa Bagdad—a precarious community with an economy reliant on the fishing industry—materializes the complexities inherent in the US-Mexico border industrialization, resulting from international free trade agreements that have chosen remaining blind to the social asymmetries of neoliberal politics.

Today, Playa Bagdad embodies a systemic contradiction. On the one hand, the community plays a protagonist role by standing in the front row to witness the mutation of a world economic order, in which space exploration promises the emergence of an economic zone delimited by a new dimension of geopolitical frontiers. On the other, Playa Bagdad is being systematically erased by the opaque and biased environmental impact protocols of SpaceX, which deliberately ignores the community’s actual existence.

EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow borrows its name from the homonymous Disneyland’s recreational park in Florida (US), first named “Progress City” and conceived as a settlement in which there would be pavilions where residents and visitors could learn about things such as technology, the oceans, communication, energy, and space. The works presented in this exhibition are imbued by an association between the latter’s subjectivities and the critical condition of Playa Bagdad. This parallelism frames technological advancement as a truncated symbol of progress pervading in late capitalism, as a systemic spectacle in which the mere act of contemplating connotes a hierarchical structure where the audience is predetermined to passivity.

EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow alludes to the political irony embedded in the potential fact that Playa Bagdad, a community economically dependent on a biosphere that now is endangered by the environmental impact caused by the detrimental engine noise of SpaceX’s spacecraft, is on the verge to become a sighting touristic destination from where to witness the frequent lift offs persuading what once was only thought as fiction: an industrialized outer space.

Furthermore, EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow proposes a critical ground from where to think about the ambivalence implicit in the industrialization of space mediated through speculative frontiers, supported by colonial narratives in which the other remains invisible.


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