VIDEO: The title of the video is "Infecundas,” which means "infertile” in Spanish. Miami artist Xavier Cortada documented three employees at work in a refrigerated room of the USDA Medfly Sterilization Facility in Sarasota, Florida. (Each day they vacuum millions of flies hatched from eggs sterilized by gamma radiation in Central America from their breeding boxes into specialized containers. The irradiated flies are later released into the wild from crop dusting planes. The release of the sterilized males makes it virtually impossible for a fertile wild female Medfly in the area to find and mate with a fertile wild male. The mating between a sterile male and a wild female produces no progeny – no flies. Science is helping us eradicate this invasive foreign species without the use of pesticides. However, the battle against the Medfly will not end any time soon because humans continue to smuggle infested fruit into Florida every day.)
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:28)
For thousands of years humans have been reshaping wildlife into things that are more useful to us. The reshaping made sense, it was practical, it became necessary, it was the only way to feed more and more humans who lived longer because those things that had been wild and had become ours to use for own benefit, made people healthier, live longer and multiply more fruitfully.
However, just about every animal domesticated and every plant cultivated brought with it its own set of negative consequences – to human health in the form of diet-related chronic illnesses, as vectors of diseases, environmental damage, the inequality of mono-culture economies, the use of food as a weapon of war, the dependence of humans on agro-industrial complexes, the tenuous relationship we have all developed toward what we consume, the fetishism of guilt-ridden environmentalism, the commodification of everything, etc. And so here we are.
In Florida, we have reshaped our state in terrible and often very useful ways. We have transformed much of our wilderness into manicured agricultural groves of genetically-engineered super citrus bred to be, among other things, seedless. Miles and miles of rolling hills in Central Florida are covered with fruit trees; the orderly rows are a pleasure to see, the smell of orange blossoms is sublime. They are the "new wilderness,” a forest where all the trees are of the same species and height and planted at the same distance from one another.
However, even these perfect fruit domesticated thousands of years ago from less attractive specimens from Southeast Asia, have enemies: the Mediterranean fruit fly is one of them.
Xavier Cortada created art installations at the North Poleand South Pole to address environmental concerns at every point in between. He’s been commissioned to create art for the White House, the World Bank, Miami City Hall, Miami-Dade County Hall, Florida Botanical Gardens, the Miami Art Museum, Museum of Florida History, Miami Science Museum and the Frost Art Museum. Cortada has also developed numerous collaborative art projects globally, including peace murals in Cyprus and Northern Ireland, child welfare murals in Bolivia and Panama, AIDS murals in Switzerland and South Africa, and eco-art projects in Holland, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Latvia and Taiwan. Cortada serves as artist-in-residence at the FIU College of Architecture + The Arts.