This series of photographs is part of the body of work Allora & Calzadilla made regarding the situation in Vieques, an island off the mainland of Puerto Rico used for the 60 years by the U.S Military and NATO forces to practice military bombing exercises. In 2000, they began a collaboration with the local activists to make the campaign more visible. Having added cast rubber reliefs of their slogans and designs to the soles of their shoes, the activists stamped their protest on the reclaimed land. By slightly manipulating everyday objects to become communication tools, Allora & Calzadilla had created “mobile print-making machines” (Yates McKee, October 133, Summer 2010). They then photographed the ephemeral aftermath of these mark-making actions.
Like graffitied walls, the details of these impressions on sandy grounds are landscapes of dissent, willing the transition of propriety back to the inhabitants. In Land Mark #12, numerous footsteps with long statements stamp their resentment in different confused orientations. Such a beach scene might at first misleadingly be associated with a playful holiday snap. The fragility, uncertainty and relentlessness of this struggle is poetically summarized in this close-up of meaningful site-specific expression. The artists wrote: “How is land differentiated from other land by the way it is marked? Who decides what is worth preserving and what should be destroyed? What are the strategies for reclaiming marked land? How does one articulate an ethics and politics of land use?” (in Land Mark, de Tokyo, Paris, 2006).