Archival Mounted Photo: Banana, Musa sp
Banana, Musa sp., Baltimori, Peru 2019
Archival digital photograph on hot press cotton paper
Mounted on aluminum 30x40"
A global fruit with a long history, it is believed that the Banana plant is one of the first plants that humans ever cultivated. Varieties of Musa have a history of being monocropped for their sweet taste and durable outer skin for enduring packing and exportation on a global scale. One of the most popular varieties was Gros Michel or Musa Acuminata, which was monocropped until contracting and spreading Panama Disease almost to the species’ total demise. Replacing the Gros Michel variety is now the Cavendish, accounting for 48% of the global banana production. However, this variety is facing a similar fate of Panama Disease and Black Tsigatoka. Efforts are being made to genetically modify this cultivar to become resistant to the fungal infection utilizing technologies like CRISPR, a gene editor tool. Diseases are easily spread when systems of monocropping are used, diversified farming can easily stop the spread of disease and fungus. There are efforts to use crypto currencies to save the banana. Bananacoin is an initiative that holds the varietal Lady Finger as the future of bananas.
I once worked with a man, Carl, from Jamaica on my farm in Miami. On the farm we grew Musa acuminata × balbisiana (the “x” means crossed with) or commonly known as Blue Java and Lady Finger among other varieties of plantain. He taught me about harvesting banana “pups,” the sucker on the side of the mother plant. He taught me about harvesting the fruit from the mother and then how to chop her down in order for the “pups” on the side to grow and give you more fruit. He knew all about bananas because he worked on a plantation in Jamaica. He told me stories of sleeping outside along with the plants and that at night he could hear the banana plants birth their flowers. I asked him what the sound was like and he said, “like a woman giving birth.”