20. 12. 2016 - 08. 02. 2017
Tomas Vu, Rirkrit Tiravanija: GREEN GO HOME. Installation view at MGLC. Photo: Jaka Babnik.

The story of GREEN GO HOME is part myth and part folklore. It is also partially a misunderstanding and to some degree, an invention of the imagination. The term gringo—commonly used in Latin America to describe a Western foreigner—has been assumed by many to have etymologically originated with the phrase “Green go home!”

One story holds that the origin of gringo is derived from a rallying chant. During the Mexican-American War, according to legend, the American uniform frequently included green coats. Hence “Green go home!” became the recurring phrase of the population. Over time it was thought that “Green go home!” was shortened to “Green go!” and in turn became “gringo.”

Detractors of the green coat theory have pointed out that U.S. troops wore blue during the Mexican Invasion, but the story remains compelling nonetheless. Another aspect of the folklore held that during the Mexican-American War, English-speaking American soldiers would sing the folk songs “Green Grow the Lilacs” or “Green Grow the Rushes, O”. In this case, the use of gringo was attributed to the song’s lyrics.

Another variant of this story focuses on the green stripes worn by the 3rd Cavalry— the only U.S. cavalry regiment to wear a green stripe on their uniform. Their regimental song also happened to be “Green Goes the Rushes, Ho.”

In Brazil, gringo is also thought to be derived from the English words green and go, but with a different basis. Rather than originating from military interaction, this term came about from foreigners’ exploitation of nature. The Amazonian rainforest was the green that for them was ‘going’ – being stolen and destroyed by outsiders. Alternately, in Puerto Rico it is thought that the term gringo refers to the locals’ desire for the U.S. military, characterized by their green uniforms, to leave their island.

GREEN GO HOME by Tomas Vu and Rirkrit Tiravanija is inspired by the spirit of resistance that lies at the root of these origin stories. Whether or not these theories are true, the rebellious gesture that they represent resonates profoundly – not just in Latin America, but all over the world.  The origin of the prints and text—graffiti over portraits—was a collaborative installation by Vu and Tiravanija at the Colombian-American library in Bogotá, Colombia. The provocation inherent in GREEN GO HOME exposes the underlying subtext of U.S. interventions and colonialist attitudes towards its neighbors in Latin American: an antagonism that has cost many lives and much strife. In whatever country GREEN GO HOME is installed, this spirit of resistance that is invoked – resistance against the invader, the colonial power, the repressive government. Each character represented by the portraits is a revolutionary—whether they be reveals itself to the viewer as addressing the condition of the graffiti text. GREEN GO HOME is a wall of resisters, and of resistance. 

Curator: Božidar Zrinski


Thursdays: 26 January and 2 February, between 4 pm and 6 pm,conducted by academy-trained painter Nika Rupnik
Wednesday: 8 February, 11.00–13.00, 16.00–18.00, conducted by master printmaker Slavko Pavlin and academy-trained painter Nika Rupnik

You can print six designs, which can be freely combined, and to which you can add an activist slogan.
Bring the t-shirt with you!