We didn’t ask permission, we just did it… at Mishkin Gallery, New York


Chemi Rosado, sunset sand sofa, 2011, 1st Gran Bienal Tropical, curated by Pablo Leon de la Barra, La Comai, Loíza, Puerto Rico.

Embajada is pleased to announce the 2nd iteration of We didn’t ask permission, we just did it…, opening this Thursday, August 31 and on view through December 8, 2023. The show revisits and honors the legacy of three historic exhibition series in Puerto Rico from 2000 to 2016 that foregrounded the independent spirit of art making across the region during a time of hopeful possibility. Those three exhibition histories include M&M Proyectos’ PR invitationals, organized by Michy Marxuach; the Gran Tropical Bienals, founded by Pablo León de la Barra; and Cave-In, initiated by Mike Egan.

Exhibiting artists: Allora & Calzadilla, Lucas Blalock, Borden Capalino, Carolina Caycedo, Oswaldo Colón Ortiz, Lourdes Correa-Carlo, Edmee Feyyo, Radamés “Juni” Figueroa, Jorge González Santos, Vanessa Hernández Garcia, Federico Herrero, Alana Iturralde, Jessica Kaire, Ajay Kurian, Ignacio González Lang, José Lerma, Liliana Porter, Daniel Lind Ramos, Christopher Rivera, Adriana Martinez, Matilsha Marxuach, Lionel Maunz, Andy Meerow, Jesús “Bubu” Negrón, Damián Ortega, Ernesto Pujol, Dhara Rivera, Jorge Rivera, Joel “Yoyo” Rodriguez, Monica Rodriguez, Marxz Rosado, Chemi Rosado-Seijo, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Chaveli Sifre, Edra Soto, Andra Ursuta, and Alterazioni Video.

The exhibitions, which took the form of idiosyncratic biennials, happenings, and installations, have had lasting impacts on practicing artists and in part spurred the self-reliant gallery community that flourishes in San Juan, Puerto Rico today. Drawing on the archives of each project, the exhibition features a selection of works by Puerto Rican and international artists working in an array of unconventional materials, along with documentation and ephemera. Taking place during an era of bankruptcy and political tension, the curators and artists in the exhibition embraced the ruins of modernity and empire and perceived anything as possible. We didn’t ask permission, we just did it… conveys the sense of ambition, collective action, and self-sufficiency of experimental artist communities despite infrastructural limitations.

Rather than serve as a static repository, the archives from which this exhibition is built are still expanding. They provide creative opportunities for curatorial interaction, collaborative investigation, and trans-disciplinary experimentation. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, students from Baruch College will engage with the exhibition, actively taking part in researching and producing oral history projects and zines connected to the relatively new history. Artists and curators from Puerto Rico will be invited to expand the understanding of their work through public talks, podcasts, performances, and workshops while also activating local collaborations with the Puerto Rican diasporic arts community throughout New York City.

The exhibition is guest curated by Manuela Paz and Christopher Rivera of Embajada, an independent, self-funded gallery founded in San Juan in 2015. Named after the Spanish word for embassy, Embajada serves as a bridge connecting artists on the island with the rest of the world, fostering connections to the contemporary art world. Inspired by the spirit of experimentation in the region and following the groundbreaking exhibitions by Marxuach, de la Barra, and Egan, Embajada expands upon its mission by highlighting these three key projects that had a hand in shaping many artists’ practices both in the region and internationally.

Major support is provided by Hedwig Feit and the Schindler-Lizana Fund for Latin American Arts and Culture. Additional supported provided by The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation. The exhibition is made possible by Friends of the Mishkin Gallery and the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences at Baruch College (CUNY). An earlier iteration of this exhibition was presented at The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) St. Louis in 2022.