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Fordlândia

aquarium, brazilian red dirt, fountain pen, water, heated chrome towel dryer,
natural rubber, cow milk, acrylic glas box, paper, collage, wood
nbk - Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin 2014

In his project Fordlândia, Adrian Lohmüller concerns himself with a region in the Brazilian Amazon basin, a 10,000 square kilometer jungle which Henry Ford bought in 1928 to build a rubber plantation. A small town with American style houses was built for 8,000 Brazilian workers, today Fordlândia is a small village of about 2,000 inhabitants surrounding ruins of the former Ford Motor Company industrial complex. Lohmüller contemplates the complexity of the issue, the colonial aspect, the failure of Ford and the impact on residents with all its social consequences to this day. The central element of the installation is a fountain pen with the inscription "Henry Ford 1928" which Lohmüller had especially customized for his trip to Fordlândia. With such a fountain pen Ford is said to have signed the purchase agreement for the future plantation area, yet Henry Ford himself never took the trip to Fordlândia. In conversations, Lohmüller handed the pen to today's residents, the direct descendants of plantation workers and asked for their signatures as evidence of their emancipated self empowerment. In addition, the installation includes two glass bottles with white substances in a fridge-like vitrine; one is a 1930 milk bottle from Detroit Michigan; Henry Ford was known for a peculiar animosity towards cows and dairy products. What initially appears like a vial of curdled milk is actually natural rubber which Lohmüller himself had tapped from the Seringueira latex tree in the Amazon. Ironically, today the deforested Ford plantation area is grazed by imported Indian dairy cows.

Silke Wittig, Text from the NBK catalogue "Give Us The Future"

In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, bought a 10.000 square kilometer tract of land in the Brazilian Amazon. His intention was to grow rubber, but the project rapidly evolved into a more ambitious bid to export America itself. Fordlândia, as the settlement was called, soon became the site of an epic clash. On one side was the lean, austere car magnate; on the other, the Amazon, the most complex ecological system on the planet. Indigenous workers rejected Ford's midwestern Puritanism, turning the place into a ribald tropical boomtown. And his efforts to apply a system of regimented mass production to the Amazon's diversity resulted in a rash environmental assault that foreshadowed many of the threats laying waste to the rain forest today.

Greg Grandin, "Fordlandia: The Rise And Fall Of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City" (back cover), Picador, New York 2010

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