LA EXPOSICIÓN La Exposición is a neighborhood in the center of downtown Panama City. It was designed and built in 1915 to accommodate an international exposition, hence its name. Because of its origins, it is one of the only areas in the city to benefit from urban planning during its initial design and construction. Starting around 2004, a real-estate boom fueled a wave of demolition and construction which leveled entire blocks of houses and buildings without regard to their historic and architectural value. Many of the tiles and mosaics we used in our “(Video) Games” series from 2008–9 were recovered from demolition sites around this neighborhood.
VIDRIOS PANAMEÑOS Our video Dry Season (2006) was filmed on the grounds of Vidrios Panameños, the only glass fabrication and recycling plant in Panama, located on the outskirts of the city, close to the airport. Glass production and recycling turned out to be an unfeasible business in Panama, and Vidrios Panameños halted operations in 2010.
VERACRUZ The beach, mangrove and forest scenes in Lottery (2017) were shot in Veracruz, a small coastal town of around 24,000 inhabitants located 15 kilometers outside of Panama city, on the other side of the Panama Canal. It was originally a fishing village, but its population increased due to the influx of people from the countryside seeking temporary work on and around U.S. military bases. After the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, many of the impoverished inhabitants of the El Chorrillo neighborhood (site of the most intense and deadly battles), were displaced to Veracruz.
PARQUE METROPOLITANO Parque Metropolitano (Metropolitan Park) consists of 232 hectares of protected secondary tropical forest, and is the largest natural park in the Americas. At different moments, the park housed both U.S. and Panamanian military installations. Our video Capapults (2012) was shot on a concrete platform that is a vestige of its military history, and now serves as scenic overlook of the city.
CASCO VIEJO In 1671, the Spanish governor set the original City of Panama on fire in anticipation of pirate Henry Morgan’s attack. Shortly afterwards, a walled version of the city was reconstructed nearby on a small peninsula, and it remained the economic and political center of Panama well into the twentieth century. In the 1950s, its wealthy inhabitants left in search of space and modern accommodations, and working class families moved in. The Casco Viejo (Old Quarter) fell into disrepair until 1997, when UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. Ironically, this ushered in a wave of gentrification that still continues to this day.
— DONNA CONLON & JONATHAN HARKER