A Culture in Flames: Puerto Rican Art of Resistance in the XXI Century at Unisex Salon

"Post Industrial Dust", Myritza Castillo

New York, NY - Unisex Salon is pleased to present A Culture in Flames: Puerto Rican Art of Resistance in the XXI Century, on view from June 1, 2019 through July 7, 2019, curated by artist Quintín Rivera Toro and based on his doctoral dissertation, is an investigation exploring issues that pertain to Puerto Rico's colonial political history. The opening reception, with the artists, will take place on Saturday, June 1, 6-8 pm.

Through the selection of this diverse group of artists it is evidenced that there is a sustained practice of resistance on the Island, achieving the affirmation of a distinct Puerto Rican identity from its current imperial occupant, the United States of America. These artists make bold statements against the colonial contemporary reality. Neither post colonialism nor traditional colonialism, the island's psyche exists in a type of limbo, which only artists seem to be able to address with clarity.

A piece by Yamcy Leslie

Two time Whitney Biennial artist (2002 and 2017) In "Salón - Sala - Salón" Chemi Rosado Seijoswaps contexts between the classroom and the art gallery as a means to explore the social dynamics and power structures that exist within both systems of knowledge. He is socially engaged artist and his process involves political empowerment through participation.

Returning from the 2019 Mass Moca residency summer program, Vanessa Hernández Gracia, addressed the stark contrasts between issues of opulence and scarcity, by performing with personal symbolisms. For "Line of water" she used the minimal means available, her bare feet and the body of water on site, connecting the river with the audience.

Yamcy Leslie makes head on confrontational work about female inequities in patriarchal art history, while embodying the language of the male gaze aesthetic. Either using drag or transvestite strategies, she becomes a man within iconic art works in order to creep under the masculine hegemony and lift up a mirror.

Brooklyn College graduate Danny Rivera Cruz presents "Standing Ovation", a series of videos that subvert the questions of masculinity and its powers. While showcasing Latin American power ballad singer/songwriters at their "peaking" moment, heartbreak and patriarchy collide in a visual realm.

Garvin Sierra uses iconographic languages on printed matter, as a means to point out to the problems in the systems of Puerto Rican culture, such as education, politics and the military. His formation as a printmaker informs his expanded strategies of appropriation and re-signification.

A piece by Garvin Sierra

Whitney Independent Study Program graduate Mónica Rodríguez Medina explores with tremendous precision the events of the history of Puerto Rican nationalist movements. Her "Arsenal Rodante" is composed of the reproduction of the various artifacts employed during the violent and tragic insurrections.

Colectivo La Puerta is an anonymous collective that specializes in politically charged, monumental scale murals, that function both as billboards for social mobilization and as protestation towards the system. They have become an important voice for the collective of Puerto Ricans dissatisfied with the current economic and political climate.

2019 Havana Biennial artist Karlo Andrei Ibarra in this sardonic video "Crossover" asks of Puerto Rican passerby's to sing and record their interpretation of the Star Spangled Banner. In a simultaneous surfacing of audience and participant discomfort, the idea of contradictions within an American Dream are exposed.

School of the Art Institute graduate Marisol Plard eats her own mother's ashes in "Antropofagia". In this visually visceral video work, the artist brings up the matrilineal structure as a contestation to power dynamics in a colonial environment, while indirectly addressing questions of sustenance both literally and symbolically.

"Antorpofagia", Marisol Plard Narváez

Myritza Castillo memorializes, through architectural photography, the abandonment caused by obsolete buildings of the foreign industries that once thrived and that now pollute much of the Island, leaving behind nostalgia and forgotten stories of neocolonialism.

Vanessa Hernández Gracia will begin a special half hour durational performance starting at 7:30 pm during opening reception night only.

This exhibition A Culture in Flames: Puerto Rican Art of Resistance in the XXI Century, is on view till July 7 at exhibition space Unisex Salon 133 Manhattan Ave Brooklyn, NY 11206 The exhibition will be open Sunday, 1-5pm and by appointment. For any enquiries please contact the gallery at: unisex@unisexsalon.nyc