“no existe un mundo poshuracán: Puerto Rican Art in the Wake of Hurricane Maria”

“El pueblo salva el pueblo”—the people save the people—reads an inscription in the margins of the artist Lulu Varona’s tenderly embroidered textile, from 2020, now on view in the Whitney’s anguished, jubilant, galvanizing, and often beautiful exhibition “no existe un mundo poshuracán: Puerto Rican Art in the Wake of Hurricane Maria” (through April 23). What becomes all too clear in the presence of the show’s fifty works, made by twenty artists since 2017, is that the solidarity Varona invokes is both an expression of love and a response to state-sanctioned neglect. When a voice-over in Sofia Gallisá Muriente’s darkly comic video “B-Roll,” from 2017—a supercut of tourist-board promotions aimed at investors—says that “the government is bending over backwards to help,” the intended recipients of that largesse are U.S. businesses, not Puerto Rico’s dispossessed. (Several works directly address the swell of protests, in 2019, that led to Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation as governor.) The show necessarily touches on painful subjects—a tabletop installation by Gabriella N. Báez, ongoing since 2018, is a moving tribute to her father, who took his own life—as the inspired curator Marcela Guerrero (with Angelica Arbelaez and Sofia Silva) honors the past to shine a light on the future.— Andrea K. Scott for The New Yorker.

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