Saturday, March 3, 2012

Egyptian Tangerines

Tangerine Peel (1of 2), 12 x 9 in.

Last week I tagged along with my friends to something in-between a modern grocery store and an indoor market.  There were huge separate areas for vegetables and fruits.  The veggie section was quite impressive but nothing like the fruits.  All types of fruits, and each pile labeled with its country of origin.  There were at least ten different options of clementines and tangerines, and I randomly chose some from Egypt.

The next day I peeled one and popped a slice into my mouth, and was in shock at how amazingly wonderful it was.  The most delicious piece of fruit I've had maybe since I was a kid and we would get these huge Washington state peaches in the summer that were so juicy my forearms and shirt would be all wet and sticky with peach juice after the first bite.....

After I devoured this little nugget of heaven, I was looking at the beautiful peel, and all of the shades of orange, yellow and red.  I began to think about waste and how I deal with the waste I create on a daily basis, just by being alive.  Staying in Dubai I am confronted every day by a large scale lack of concern about waste and overconsumption.  Here there is no recycling, everything purchased at the grocery gets its own separate plastic bag, if you want to purchase just one single apple, you have to fight with the guy who weighs it for you so he doesn't bag it before giving it a price tag.

This consensus of the people living in Dubai seems to scream, live big, now.  There is absolutely no effort for conservation of anything, natural environment, culture, music, art, education.  The only exception I can see is when it comes to Religion.  But even the way in which religion affects peoples lives has gone through a shift in the past 40 years as this country has been established.  Now the locals are on the surface more religious, while simultaneously some of the most greedy people I have ever known.

So I decided that before I would throw this peel into the trash, with all the plastic bottles, aluminum cans and take-out meal packaging, I would spend a few hours with it, painting a portrait of sorts to give myself the space to consider how I deal with waste.  As humans, we convince ourselves that we have certain needs that must be met, no matter the costs to other people, the environment, etc.  When selecting a tangerine at a shop, the peel is very important.  The color and the strength of it help one to determine if the fruit inside will be fresh and ripe.  It is the carrier of the fruit and the advertisement, giving clues to the overall future satisfaction of the experience.  Once the skin is punctured and the peel cut away, we immediately throw it to the side, no longer needing its wisdom.

These are the peels.  I painted these over the course of three days, as the texture and elasticity changed from soft to brittle.

Tangerine Peel (2 of 2), 12 x 9 in.