Fortune Tamales

Pablo Helguera

Fortune Tamales

Inkjet print, 47 x 46.5 inches


Pablo Helguera proposes to introduce a new fast food item at the opening of Jamaica Flux. Presented as a hybrid between Mexican and Chinese food, Fortune Tamales are packaged as an original product of Jamaica, with a fictional promotional myth of urban origin (a Chinese- Mexican baker who arrived to Jamaica during the Depression). The tamales are offered as a product for sale to any food vendor who may be interested. A preliminary tamal tasting is also offered to vendors, and tamal distribution includes labels, a poster, and the wrapped tamales with different fortune messages inside. Tamales are sold individually, frozen and in plastic bags that can be reheated on the microwave. The price is set at US$1.00 for retailers and US$2.00 for consumers. In the gallery exhibition, a small historical installation shows the history of the Chinese-Mexican baker and the birth of Fortune Tamales.

Jamaica Flux: Fortune Tamales raises questions about how urban myths are born, as well as how the local identity of a place is constructed. Through the commercial introduction of a food item that supposedly is indigenous to the area, the project stimulates commerce, local identity, and stimulates awareness about the hybridity of the existing cultures in Jamaica, Queens