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Indepth Arts News:

"Puerto Rican Light: Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla"
2003-05-17 until 2003-07-20
Americas Society
New York, NY, USA

The Americas Society will host "Puerto Rican Light," the first major exhibition of artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, from May 18 to July 20, 2003. Allora and Calzadilla have been working together since 1995, living part of the year in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and part in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Their work includes drawing installations, digital photography, sculptural works, and community collaborations. "Puerto Rican Light" will present three works by Allora and Calzadilla that utilize a variety of representational means to convey light "from" the island of Puerto Rico including: an installation of "Traffic Patterns" (2001- 2003), a photograph from the series "Seeing Otherwise" (1999-2003), and the sculptural project "Puerto Rican Light (to Dan Flavin)" (2003).

"Traffic Patterns" consists of a drop ceiling containing a unique lighting system that will synchronize the light in the gallery space with a traffic light in the city of San Juan, PR. The gallery will be illuminated for some minutes with red light, followed by a brief moment in yellow, and then green. To achieve this synchronization, the lighting system uses a specially designed controller/ relay device connected to a computer chip programmed with the time-code of the traffic light. "Traffic Patterns" has been exhibited previously, but its presentation in "Puerto Rican Light " will be the first instance of linking two cities together, literally transmitting to New York City an organizing pattern located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Initiated in 1999, "Seeing Otherwise" is a series of photographic seascapes taken mainly on the shoreline of Puerto Rico beaches that depict individuals contemplating sunsets. With an almost indiscernible digital manipulation to the photograph, the sunrays over the sea are deflected from the camera lens to the individual in each respective photo. The deliberate deflection of light emphasizes the individual who is viewing the sunset. Symbolically, this accentuates what would be impossible to see otherwise - what another person sees as they experience a sunset. For "Puerto Rican Light," one photograph from this series will be featured, "Seeing Otherwise (Cataño)."

The third project, "Puerto Rican Light (to Dan Flavin)," consists of capturing and storing solar energy in a battery bank especially designed to provide the proper voltage to light "Puerto Rican Light (to Jeanie Blake), "-a 1965 sculpture by artist Dan Flavin. During the month of April, the battery bank, which is connected to solar panels, will be located in the gardens of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico in San Juan, PR. Once full of solar energy, the battery bank will be shipped to the Americas Society, where it will be connected to Flavin's fluorescent light sculpture. The battery bank will supply enough energy to light Flavin's sculpture throughout the exhibition.

"Puerto Rican Light" will be accompanied by a fully illustrated publication to be released in August 2003. It will include writings by the artists and exhibition curator Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy; Dean Daderko (independent curator, Brooklyn); Jane Farver (Director, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts); Olukemi Ilesanmi (Assistant Curator, The Walker Art Center for the Arts, Minneapolis); Yates McKee (writer, New York); and Yasmin Ramirez (art historian, New York). -1:0:1, an innovative collective of designers based in Monterrey, Mexico, has been commissioned to design this publication.

"Chalk Monuments," a project by Allora & Calzadilla organized in conjunction with the exhibition, will take place at three New York City elementary schools during May 2003. The project consists of using pieces of chalk cast in the likeness of three New York City public art statues depicting Juan Pablo Duarte, José Martí, and George Washington for use in classroom and after-school activities associated with the history of these important figures.

"Puerto Rican Light" is made possible through the generous support of the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Trust, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and Moisés and Diana Berezdivin. Additional support was provided to the artists through the Grants Program of the Council for the Arts at MIT.

"Chalk Monuments" is made possible through The Fund For Creative Communities, administered by The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council through the New York State Council on the Arts' Decentralization Program.

The Americas Society wishes to acknowledge the following individuals and organizations for their cooperation and support in the realization of this project: Lombard-Freid Fine Arts, New York; Jed Ela; Michelle Marxuach and M&M Proyectos, an Juan; Museo de Arte Contempóraneo de Puerto Rico, San Juan; Jennifer Spence; and Washington Heights-Inwood Coalition, New York.

"Founded in 1965, the Americas Society is a unique national not-for-profit institution with a mission to promote a better understanding in the United States about the cultures and societies of Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin America. "Puerto Rican Light" is part of a new approach to visual arts programming that reflects on the increasing political, economic, and cultural interdependence between the United States and other countries of the Americas, and that focuses on notions of cultural contact, exchange, and dialogue.

The Americas Society is located on 680 Park Avenue at 68th Street, New York, NY 10021. For additional information about the exhibition, please contact us at (212) 277-8361, fax (212) 249-5868, or email: exhibitions@as-coa.org.

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