Frozen Dead, Frozen Sleep, and Some Consequences

2019

Black and white + colour prints on premium bond paper, yarn, nails, rubber spray paint

Frozen Dead was produced as an aesthetic response to an imagined conspiracy theory, positing a morbid plot between global shipping industries, the international banana trade, technologies of refrigeration and climate control, and human cryonics (or practices of cryogenic freezing). Synthesizing from an extended body of research into the technological development of refrigerated sea transport and the grotesque criminal history of the US' United Fruit Corporation, the installation's aesthetic decisions consciously reflect its paranoid source narratives, wildly attempting to parse a story from the surfeit of archival (and faux-archival) information. Though no clear narrative ever ultimately emerges, the images and documents all point to strange visual and textual overlaps between bananas, human bodies, the transportation of commodities, and the technological control of biological organisms.

While the yellow threads appear to simply carry the installation's vague narrative along, they are actually tracing out an almost to-scale replica of the United Fruits Corporation's shipping routes from the early 20th century; a period in which United Fruit was expropriating lands, mercilessly exploiting workers, funding and arming militias, and manipulating (even assassinating) governments across Honduras, Costa-Rica, Guatemala, Columbia, and other Central/South American countries. These brutal patterns of corporate exploitation, which went on for decades, stand as some of the 20th century's earliest and most harrowing (and very real) corporate conspiracies. United Fruit's primary export from these de-facto colonies was bananas, which remain the most internationally trafficked fruit in the world.  

United Fruits' boats which traveled these routes, called the "Great White Fleet," laid the groundwork for today's refrigerated and "Controlled Atmosphere" shipping containers, which precisely circulate gases and chemicals and effectively suspend fruits' ripening processes, allowing them to travel across the world in a state of frozen timelessness. The Great White Fleet hauled both cargo and passengers, carrying refrigerated bananas in their lower decks and wealthy tourists up above.

The work's title derives from a chapter in Robert Ettinger's 1962 book, "The Prospect of Immortality," which is credited with launching the present-day Cryonics movement. Cryogenic freezing programs like Alcor and The Cryonics Institute offer to freeze, transport, and store the brains and bodies of deceased clients, who wish to preserve their flesh in hopes that they might live again, should future societies ever find the ability (and desire) to revive these frozen remains. Through email correspondences with Alcor, I've learned that they charge a flat fee of $200,000, as well as a "rent" of $700 per year.