Hector Madera, Untitled, mixed media, 2009-2010 (Detail)
AREA arrives to the metropolitan area of San Juan, Puerto Rico with a new space and an innovative program. METRO plataformaorganizada is José Hernández Castrodad’s new initiative in San Juan that brings together a group of young and talented Puerto Rican artists based in Puerto Rico and abroad. METRO is a self-sustainable artist-run space that promotes Puerto Rican artists locally and internationally through individual and group shows, curated projects and collaborations. Castrodad, an avid collector and art enthusiast who is highly respected by the local artistic community, already funds and supports AREA, an alternative art space and residency program in Caguas, Puerto Rico.
Manolo Rodríguez, Method of Ioci
The artists represented by METRO are Héctor Arce, Migdalia Barens, Javier Bosques, Myritza Castillo, Rabindranat Díaz Cardona, Vanessa Hernández Gracia, Héctor Madera González, Elsa María Meléndez, Omar Obdulio Peña Forty, Quintín Rivera Toro, Christopher Rivera, Manolo Rodríguez, Carlos Ruiz Valarino, Cristina Tufiño, Sebastián Vallejo, Zinthia Vázquez and Norma Vila Rivero.
The opening exhibition of METRO showcased a diverse number of works in different mediums that provides viewers a sense of the general program to come. Inside, one of the works that immediately grabbed my attention was Hector Madera’s mixed media collage with its sinister de facto phrase “No fucking future,” a thought that seems to resonate with today’s unemployed/drifter generation. Also, Manolo Rodríguez’s Method of Ioci garnered my curiosity; a sculpture that seemingly functions as a floating capsule, where an inverted map of Puerto Rico lies on a mirror atop an encapsulated mound of dirt with a lamb’s bone. The objects placed within this floating device evoke a diverse number of issues, from cartography to politics. But most importantly, the ‘mental walk’ formed by the amalgamation of visual references triggers the viewer’s historical memory; an upturned island, in upheaval, with a tattered bone of an animal that happens to play a leading role in Puerto Rico’s coat of arms. Perhaps the lost relics of a forgotten civilization.
Javier Bosques, Peleando la pámpana, video still, 2009.
Another pleasant discovery was Javier Bosques’ video Peleando la pámpana, where Bosques visually and physically takes on two of the most emblematic symbols of Puerto Rican culture, boxing and the plantain. In the video, Bosques fights against ‘la pámpana,’ his roots so to speak, and ultimately wins by knocking it down. The plantain, a staple of Puerto Rican cuisine also refers to ‘la mancha de plátano’ roughly translated to the Puerto Rican stain, which is a symbol of the permanence of Puerto Rican culture abroad. Bosques, who graduated from Cooper Union in New York and also attended the Skowhegan residency program, lives and works in New York.
METRO plataformaorganizada is located on O’Neill Street # 174, Roosevelt Avenue, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico.
Quintín Rivera Toro.
AREAmetro, installation view.