As of March 2021, over 5.5 million Venezuelans have fled the country, constituting 17% of the country’s population and the world’s second largest refugee crisis. Understanding this exodus is complicated, but a hint lies in 2016, a year of two contractions: that of Venezuela’s population and that of the price of the oil barrel, the commodity upon which the country’s economy has depended since 1922. Venezuela’s reliance on oil has long been a concern within the country. In 1936, the Venezuelan writer Arturo Uslar Pietri insisted on the need to “sow the oil:” to use its profits to strengthen other sectors of the economy. Yet, in 2019, the oil industry constituted 96% of the country’s exports.
La Rentrada proposes an economy (and an identity) for this post-petroleum era. One around a material that is free and readily available in Venezuela: avocado seeds. Utilising appropriate technology and local resources that are normally discarded or unutilized like seaweed, seashells, starches and sugars, avocado seeds can be used to create a wide range of materials, objects and applications spanning all sectors of the economy. From an alternative clay to make bricks and adobe, to plastic, leather and glass substitutes and even electricity and oil for powering vehicles.
The Venezuelan Pavilion will explore this unexpected circular economy of innovation and transformation to reimagine a society whose future is independent from the price of crude oil. The exhibition also invites the viewers to reimagine their own rentradas. After all, the avocado-seed rentrada is just one of many.
La Rentrada borrows its name from the French rentrée and transforms it into Spanish, a wink at the transformative possibilities explored through the avocado and that of those who return. The project is the final installment of an avocado-seed trilogy by Fragmentario.