Abricó de Macaco
History cannon 18 | 006972
This mortar was made in an emergency in Rio Grande do Sul,
a Southern State of Brazil, to be utilized in the Revolution or Coup of 1930. It was an armed movement led by the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais, Paraíba and Rio Grande do Sul culminating in a coup d'état that deposed the president Washington Luís and prevented the presidential tenure of the elected politician Júlio Prestes, ending the period of the
Old Republic in Brazil.
Previously, there was a monopoly in the presidential elections between the republican parties of the states of Minas Gerais
and São Paulo. This period, also known as the Coffee and Milk policy, ended with revolutionary troops taking power in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s capital at the time. In this movement, weapons were produced in private and public workshops. Cannon #18 was one of the first artillery manufactured in Brazil.
The movement was led by Getúlio Vargas, an ambiguous
figure who, despite maintaining the country for 15 years under authoritarian and dictatorial regime, created also labor and populist policies. As an example, in 1932, the women’s right to vote was declared as well as the opening to the introduction of women in politics. In 1934, the doctor and feminist, Carlota Pereira de Queiroz, became the first Brazilian congresswoman.
The advances on women's role in political life are still small today. Only in 2011, Brazil elected its first female president, Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016), impeached in 2014. Today, it is argued that it was a political coup. In 2020, women occupy
only 15% of seats in the Chamber of Congress and 13% in the Senate, which exemplifies the lack of gender representation in government positions.
- A mortar is a large gun or a cannon with a short, wide barrel that fires
bombs or explosives very high into the air.
- The “Coffee and Milk” policy is named in this way because Minas Gerais
is a state of milk production and São Paulo, a producer of Coffee.
- In Portuguese, this tree is named Abricó de Macaco (Monkey Abricot) because monkeys love the fruit in spite of its smell is unbearable for humans.
This page describes the history and associations
with the smell Cannonball Tree .
The questions below are bridges between
you and past and present passages of Brazilian History.
It would be exciting to have your
contribution in the construction of an
imaginary collective smell glossary.
Have you ever seen this tree?
Did you ever smell the flower and the fruit?
If not, can you imagine and
describe both smells?
Have you ever walked in a city using mostly
your nose? Can you describe?
smell Cannonball Tree
Cannonball tree, (Couroupita guianensis), is a large tropical, tall, soft-wooded tree, of the family Lecythidaceae, and native to northeastern South America but it also has grown in other regions of the world such as India for at least 3,000 years where it is still revered and found at religious temples. These amazing trees are commonly found in
Shiva temples in India and also around Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka and Thailand. Hindus regard it as the sacred tree because the flower petals resemble the hood of the
‘Naga’, a sacred snake protecting the stigma known as
the ‘Shiva lingham’.
Cannonball tree grows up to 35 meters in height and it is notable for its large, spherical woody fruit, which resembles a rusty cannonball. When the fruit falls produces a heavy, fetid, dangerous, loud and explosive noise. Its flowers are large, beautiful, sensuous and aromatic. Flowers and fruits grow from the trunk of the tree. Some trees flower profusely, until the entire trunk is buried in flowers. One tree can bear up to 1000 flowers per day. Most fruits of this species are probably the result of the movement of pollen from one tree to another, but experiments show that self-pollinated plants of the cannon ball tree also produce fruits.
The smell serves a powerful evolutionary purpose.
When the fruit cracks open, the smell sends a beacon to
all animals to come and enjoy the flesh. Then, the animals spread the seeds in their feces and the circle of life continues. When the fruit is ripe and oxygen hits the flesh upon hitting the ground, it resembles durian in its pungent, notorious stench. The book, “Encyclopedia of Geography” describes cannonball fruit as such: “in the perfectly ripe state, it exceeds whatever is filthy, stinking and abominable in nature.”
I was first intrigued by the name of this tree and its similarity of its fruit to a cannon ball. But other elements of this tree incited my curiosity such as its 3000 years history; the contrast of the aromatic flower and the foul fruit growing together directly from the trunk; the uniqueness of its pollination and in reference to the cannon #18 made up in Brazil from sewer pipe for the Revolution of 1930, a period in history of many ambivalences.
Once decided, I needed to have the synthetic smell of the fruit. Since it was not in the Givaudan do Brasil databank, we had to pick up a fruit in the streets of Rio de Janeiro and take it by hand to São Paulo. We then used Scent Trek,
a technology developed by the company. This unique methodology provides an insight into nature without causing any harm to the natural environment.
I see this smell not only as a representation of the cannon18 memories but as a signifier for the installation in its totality. Rather than describe the smell we have developed as with the other cannons, I leave it open for you to depict and keep it in your olfaction memory.