Getsemaní explores the tight relationship that workers establish with trees during the process of ‘milking’ and emphasises the mutual dependence they have on each others future. The crisis in the agricultural sector is changing the mediterranean landscape since farmers have opted to uproot manzanilla olive trees to replace them with other overproduction plantations.
‘Those olive trees are your age and were planted by your father’
Olives trees have always been present in my Mediterranean and Christian background, they are my roots.
My grandmother lived in an imposing fortress converted into a county state farm whose workers and machinery backdropped my childhood. 1265 is the number of manzanilla olive trees my father planted when I was born in January 1984. He called these trees ‘Las Bertitas’ (the little Bertas) and since then I grew up by the hand of a changing landscape that became the roots of my past.
I remember the hand picking of olives as a joyful time as I used to play with my cousins with tools, boxes and tractors that were left on the main terrace of my grandmother’s house. When I heard these trees might disappear, I flew back to Spain to document the memories of my childhood rooted to the ground.
The name of the project comes from a spiritual bouquet I found by chance in my grandfather’s wallet at the time I went to Spain. The spiritual bouquet was from the ‘Garden of Gethsemane’ or ‘Garden of the Olives’ in Jerusalem, and it had a pray for ‘the dying soul’ next to a leaf of one of its venerable olive trees. This was revealing as Gethemane is a sacred place for Christians which echoes death and betrayal.
Therefore, Getsemaní (Spanish term of Gethsemane) refers to a holy place, which is the vanishing landscape I belong to, and a forthcoming tragedy, which is the betrayal to our trees, traditions and roots.
The project consists of a series of playful installations and photographs which echo the games of my childhood.
White, green and burgundy correspond to the different stages of the olive growing cycle. Olive pits, ashes, leaves, broken gloves and allegories to the mythic Luperca (Capitoline wolf, matriarch of the Roman Empire) or Finis Gloriae Mundis (Valdés Leal’s painting) are used as well to empower the idea of the beginning and the end of a cycle.