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Lampadedromia, Puerto Rico 2004

Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia)
Deidre Hoguet (USA)
Peter Walsh (USA)

(Four Photo Galleries are Located
at the Bottom of this Page)

Equipo Terrestre Team Logo


    In the Spring of 2004, Slovenian artist and curator Tadej Pogačar invited United States artists Deidre Hoguet and Peter Walsh to join him in creating a new olympic torch relay to carry the flame for Equipo Terrestre (Team Earth), "The Supra-National Team," across the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Called Lampadedromia, Puerto Rico 2004 after the greek word for torch relay, the art project was commissioned in celebration of PR_04: Tribute to the Messenger, an arts festival sponsored by the Puerto Rican arts group M&M Proyectos. The flame itself was carried on two separate occasions.

    On the evening of Friday, May 28, 2004, San Juan residents joined with artists from around the world to celebrate the opening of the festival in an elaborate torch relay through the cobble-stone streets of Viejo San Juan, the historic 400 year-old center of Puerto Rico’s capital city (photo gallery).

    The following week the entire festival moved to the town of Rincón on the west coast of Puerto Rico. There, the Lampadedromia project was expanded to become a torch procession that marked the public opening of the festival’s Villa Olimpica. On Friday night, June 4th, an energetic group of townspeople from Rincón, carrying the olympic torch, led a gathering of the artists and curators from their town square at Iglesia de Santa Rosa de Lima, down Calle Muñoz Rivera to Route 115 and on into the artists’ compound (photo gallery).

Rincón residents lead the torch procession,
June 4, 2004

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Carrying the torch along the promenade of the Paseo de la Princesa in Viejo San Juan, May 28, 2004.
Map of Old San Juan
Map of Rincon

Map of the Torch Relay Route in Viejo San Juan.
(Click above for interactive map)

Map of the Torch Procession in Rincón.
(Click above for interactive map)

Some Background Information About the Creation of Lampadedromia, Puerto Rico 2004

La Rogativa  


    While creating PR_04, the festival organizers asked all of the participating artists to concentrate on a given local reality in Puerto Rico, which was the collective memory left behind from the unsuccessful attempt to host the Olympic Games of 2004. Their aim was to re-articulate the Olympic spirit to allow for new meanings, and, in part, to reformulate that spirit in order to propose a new Olympics, “Our Olympics,” which would include both Puerto Ricans and the guest curators and artists.

    As we (artists Hoguet, Pogacar and Walsh) developed the torch relay project to help open the PR_04 exhibition, we looked to history: both our own and that of Puerto Rico. For Tadej, the history of his own nation, Slovenia, was caught up with that of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, of which Slovenia was once a part. In September of 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavian President Tito had convened the first “Conference of Non-Aligned Heads of State,” in part

La Rogativa, San Juan, Puerto Rico
 

as a response to the growing threat of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. A communist who had also brokenYugoslavia’s ties with the Soviet bloc, Tito brought together luminaries of what was then called the “Third World.” Figures such as India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser worked with leaders from 25 nations to look for new alternatives in the struggle to create world peace and prosperity.

    For Deidre and Peter, who were busy grappling with the aggressive nationalism of their own country, the United States of America, this idea of a "third way" seemed like a great starting point in the search for ways that would move human society beyond the limits of national identity. Since in the Olympics athletes carry the torch and compete on behalf of their countries in a kind of simulation of warfare between nations, Deidre, Tadej and Peter decided to create a pan-national team, Equipo Terrestre (Team Earth), which would be open to everyone. Instead of running for the "homeland," each torch bearer was invited to choose their own reason for participating. Examples of some of the actual personal dedications are: For Freedom; Correr por el fuego del arte; Por los niños del mundo; Por la salud de mi mamá; World Peace; For street cats; En homenage a la Fundación Antorchas, Argentina; Mi hija Claudia Sofía de solo 23 dias; Por el Caribe unido nimporta la lengua.

    When we began looking closely at the history of Puerto Rico, we quickly realized that there were many correspondences to our project. In particular, the country’s quasi-national status as a Commonwealth of the United States – not the 51st U.S. state, not an independent nation, not a colony – seems to highlight the possibility of a country successfully participating in the global economy and yet still maintaining its cultural independence. Although certainly imperfect, this model suggests that there may indeed be alternatives to traditional forms of nationalism.

    Also inspiring is Puerto Rico’s long struggle against foreign imperialism that is well represented in the story of the torch bearers of La Rogativa (See the image above to the left). According to legend, during the British siege of San Juan in 1797, the bishop of San Juan led a group of women carrying candles and torches in a religious procession through the town. The action, and the pealing of the town’s church bells, successfully fooled the British into believing that armed reinforcements had arrived, and they withdrew their forces.

   

Photo Galleries from Lampadedromia, Puerto Rico 2004

Go to Gallery
  Gallery of Images from the Torch Relay in Viejo San Juan
Go to Gallery
  Gallery of Images from the Torch Procession in Rincón
Go to Gallery
  Gallery of Portraits of Equipo Terrestre Torch Bearers
Go to Gallery
  Gallery of Images from Behind the Scenes of Lampadedromia

Acknowledgements

    Projects like Lampadedromia don’t happen without the support and hard work of many people. Our thanks go out to all the members of Equipo Terrestre and especially those who had the opportunity to carry the torch. The graciousness and never-ending commitment of Michy Marxuach and her team of volunteers with M&M Proyectos made the entire PR_04 experience unforgettable and we would like to thank you all for taking such good care of us. Special thanks go out to those members of the staff who worked directly on the torch relay including Denise Santiago, Jorge Gonzáles , Angel *, Rafael Marxuach and Julieta González.


All Content Peter Walsh 2004
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