C. E. Fitzgerald’s photography and video practice began while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras and El Salvador. Making images started out as a way to document his life as a health educator, but steadily evolved into a tool for processing the legacy of colonialism in Central America and his connection (as a US citizen and having worked for a government agency) to US foreign policy. His experience in Central America continues to shape his research interests and influence his image-making. Fitzgerald currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, where he works as an artist and educator.
Federal Republic of Bananas
I was up to my neck in bananas during my time in the Peace Corps. Banana plantations cover large swaths of land in Central America. And as a health volunteer, I used countless bananas for condom demonstrations.
Bananas have seeped into US culture in unexpected ways, from Charlie Chaplin’s gags to Andy Warhol’s album cover. Bananas have led to large-scale massacres and CIA-backed coups, and yet they are largely viewed as just a fruit to slice over breakfast cereal – or a cliché.
There was also the Bay Area clothing store that named itself after exploited banana-producing countries. Presumably propelled by the 1980s craze for adventure and exotic lands (think Indiana Jones), the owners raided military surplus stores for pocketed vests and khakis that they could resell to young professionals.
What started out for me as a mental collage has turned into a photography project that brings together images of store-bought bananas, banana plants, clothing from a certain US retailer, and my body. I am attempting to make photographs that are as strange and unsettling as the history of bananas themselves. My limbs, tape and various cords are now tangled up in that messy history.
To view more of C. E. Fitzgerald’s work please visit his website.