Panama Art: 15000 Watts in Casco Viejo

 Panama, Casco Antiguo
Casco Viejo, Plaza Herrera

Last night I went to the opening of the show “15000 Watts” at La Casona de Brujas in Plaza Herrera.  The show is a meditation on the current energy crisis, in Panama, in the world, and how it touches all of us at different levels.

It combined photos and paintings from both artist Miguel Lombardo and Cartooch. Miguel, in a more dramatic tone and Cartooch using their children-like style, it was a good combination on such a serious issue.  Most of the pieces by Cartooch had buttons to “turn on” the lights which iluminated brains, eyes and heart.

There was also a piece on bringing awareness to natural spaces through the use of impossible to miss orange cubes. This experiment started a while ago, I remember driving through Balboa Avenue and pam! suddenly these big orange cubes glowing at night, or “just hanging out” there during the day. I said to myself… what is this??? Then I met Miguel and he explained how the intention was to focus the attention on the bits of nature we take for granted within the city. Later on he did it in one of Casco Viejo´s beaches, and from there on to other places.

Another big piece was made out of photographs of the areas where the energy companies have projects to build dams and hydroelectric plants. Most of these areas are inhabited by indians, so it becomes more of a social issue. On one hand, Panama´s electricity is not only becoming very expensive but also scarce. We have the Canal resources to bring hydro electricity and some other plants, but we are growing as a nation, so electricity becomes a big issue. Panamanians are experiencing the raise of the cost of energy and claim for more plants, which are only feasable in a couple of places. Without the proper integration of the communities to these very necessary projects a huge missunderstanding is caused.  I can see myself in both sides: we need energy and cheaper. They want to stay in the land they´ve been for some years. It is the dynamic tension of our world today.

What about solar? studies say that there is not enough sunlinght in Panama to feed the city, just 5 months a year, maybe. What about winds? we have winds, but not enough. And so the list goes. In the meanwhile, costs raise and availability diminishes.

The other big issue is efficiency of lines. So many times the government isn´t able to repair and organize the cables in the right way.

Back in a corner, there is a very special box. It is, for me, the most important one. A question is written on the wall: “Should we keep allowing this?”  It is our call to action.

The problems were identified a long time ago, but it is only through our actions that we can provoke change.

What am I going to do about this?

Two boxes are provided, one with a yes and another one with a no, and papers so you can provide your input.   But is that enough?

As I´ve come to learn about our recent experiment on the Urban Composter Contest, most of us feel we don´t have the time to take action. We would love to, and we get outraged with the energy crisis or the huge expenses of resources. 

But are we really able to get out of our comfort zone and do something about it?

humm…….

 

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