After Hurricane Maria, Meet the Artists Challenging the US Media’s Disaster Narrative – 飓风玛丽亚之后,迎接艺术家挑战美国媒体灾难叙事

City Report - 11 Apr 2018

After Hurricane Maria, Meet the Artists Challenging the US Media’s Disaster Narrative

Following the devastation brought by the worst storm ever to hit Puerto Rico, local artists are attempting to imagine a more sustainable future

By Erica Dawn Lyle

In the wake of Hurricane Maria last September, Puerto Rico was thrown into a state of chaos. After the Trump administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and international relief organizations were slow to deliver desperately needed food and supplies to the island, members of San Juan’s best-known arts space, Beta-Local, joined artists throughout the island in the spontaneous organization of relief efforts. In the months after the storm, galleries became community kitchens, grant monies were redistributed, and artists became homebuilders. For Beta-Local’s directors, Michael Linares, Sofia Gallisa Muriente and Pablo Guardiola, the challenges brought by the storm, while certainly formidable, were not entirely unfamiliar. ‘In Puerto Rico,’ says Linares, ‘we always work in a state of crisis.’

Six months after Maria, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans are still without homes, electricity or running water. But Beta-Local’s directors insist that the narratives of natural disaster and recovery reported in the mainland US media often obscure the true nature of Puerto Rico’s ongoing economic crisis. Due to the peculiar economics of colonialism, all of the island’s natural resources are exported while necessities like food and building materials have always been imported from the mainland at inflated prices. Furthermore, as the island’s government has defaulted on its debt to mainland creditors, the US has imposed harsh austerity measures, including the closure of public schools, while investment in jobs and infrastructure on the island has dried up. Over the past decade, nearly half a million Puerto Ricans – 10% of the island’s population – have left for the US mainland. 


After Hurricane Maria, Meet the Artists Challenging the US Media’s Disaster Narrative - 飓风玛丽亚之后,迎接艺术家挑战美国媒体灾难叙事

Beta-Local, San Juan, 2018. Photograph: Mariola Rosario. 

The prevailing atmosphere of crisis has been the wellspring of Beta-Local’s practice since it was opened by artists Beatriz Santiago Muñoz and Tony Cruz, along with curator Michy Marxuach, in Marxuach’s Old San Juan home at the height of the 2008 economic recession. In an effort to keep artists from leaving the island – there are no graduate arts programmes in Puerto Rico and little institutional support – Beta-Local designed a framework of intellectually rigorous free public programmes that encouraged broad participation. At Beta-Local, artists teach and learn from other artists. The group offers a public reading room and a free school in which anyone from the public can propose events or classes, while the space hosts an affordable monthly dinner that has become a popular gathering spot for San Juan artists. At the core of their work is an international residency programme and an intensive research salon, called La Practica (The Practice), in which a small handful of artists work together for a nine-month session to investigate and ‘respond to the particular political and economic conditions of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.’

These initiatives have brought Puerto Rico’s small but tight-knit artist community into conversation and collaboration with international artists, while Beta-Local’s example of homegrown community self-help has fostered a growing movement among Puerto Rican artists whose work investigates and promotes paths to material self-sufficiency. In 2010, artist Tara Rodriguez Besosa founded El Departimiento de Comida, a collective of organic farmers that eventually became a popular café serving only locally-grown food. Since 2014, Diego de la Cruz and Gabriel Maldonado of MAOF have processed lumber from fallen trees around the island in an effort to recover and popularize indigenous pre-colonial materials and building methods. A year before the storm, Javier Rodriguez returned to Puerto Rico from Brooklyn to open the self-described ‘hacker space’ El Almacén, a studio where Rodriguez offers public workshops on solar panel installation, sewing, beekeeping, hydroponics and more.


After Hurricane Maria, Meet the Artists Challenging the US Media’s Disaster Narrative - 飓风玛丽亚之后,迎接艺术家挑战美国媒体灾难叙事

Javier Rodriguez, founder of El Almacén, San Juan, 2018. Photograph: the author

When Maria struck, Muriente was in Los Angeles to attend the opening of two shows from ‘Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA’ in which she participated. In the days after the storm, while she frantically searched for news of friends and family on the island. Linares and Guardiola had to walk for hours through San Juan in search of spotty internet or phone connections. 

Meanwhile, Beta-Local’s artist in residence, Ramiro Chaves, an Argentine artist who lives and works in Mexico, offered to open the space to the public. The directors ultimately decided that Beta-Local must serve the recovery effort in any way possible. ‘If the space needed to become a provisional hospital, so be it,’ said Linares. Muriente was prepared, having organized similar relief work in New York while working with Occupy Sandy, a self-organized community group that undertook rebuilding efforts in Rockaway Beach after Hurricane Sandy heavily damaged the area in 2012. ‘In a disaster, proximity becomes most important,’ she says. ‘You have to help who is right next to you.’ 

Relief work at Beta-Local initially had an ad hoc quality as the artists responded to each day’s changing priorities. Chaves began a drawing workshop for neighbourhood children. Some days, spontaneous brigades were organized to clear storm debris. ‘On the second day after the storm, we picked up around 80 coconuts from the beach and made a pile in the street because there is good water inside a coconut,’ said Guardiola. Within three weeks of the storm, Beta-Local had become a kitchen, feeding some 50 people a day, and a place where people in Old San Juan came to leave messages for their neighbours.

Beta-Local was just one of an informal network of artist spaces across the capital that became temporary relief stations in the weeks after the storm. At El Almacén, Rodriguez cobbled together some 40 damaged solar panels into a diminished but still-functional power grid. Locals were invited to charge their phones and computers. El Almacén also offered space for artists to work and allowed independent publisher La Impresora to set up a risograph printer there. Taller Malaquita, a Santurce ceramic and print studio collectively run by eight women, compiled packets of necessities to distribute throughout the south of the island and served free hot coffee and cold water to neighbours who wandered in to use the shop’s miraculously functioning internet connection.


After Hurricane Maria, Meet the Artists Challenging the US Media’s Disaster Narrative - 飓风玛丽亚之后,迎接艺术家挑战美国媒体灾难叙事

Beta-Local, San Juan, 2018. Photograph: Beta-Local.

Beta-Local’s relationship to arts institutions on the US mainland made it uniquely situated to help local artists. Nearly a month after Maria, the Warhol Foundation, the Rauschenberg Foundation and the Hispanic Federation, with significant support from composer Lin Manuel-Miranda, each donated USD$100,000 to Beta-Local, which the group redistributed to artists throughout the island through an emergency fund it called El Serrucho (‘The handsaw). By 1 February 2018, Beta-Local had granted USD$350,000 to nearly 100 artists, musicians, writers, dancers, theatre groups and other performers across Puerto Rico. 

Other artists across the island have continued to participate in high-profile recovery efforts. Chemi Rosado, best known for his project to paint all of the houses in the tiny El Cerro neighbourhood of El Naranjito the same shade of green, has continued to organize relief brigades; Edgardo Larregui’s long- running community arts group, Coco D’Oro, has begun rebuilding homes and providing solar-powered film screenings. 

While the familiar crowds of tourists have returned to the quaint streets outside Beta-Local’s space in Old San Juan, Muriente says the storm has forced Puerto Ricans to confront their island’s poverty in a way that will make a return to normalcy impossible. She envisions Beta-Local’s ongoing project of promoting Puerto Rican self-sufficiency as part of a broader effort to provide a line of cultural defence against a wave of post-Maria public school closures, infrastructure privatization and real estate speculation from offshore conglomerates. Since the storm, for instance, Besosa has gathered organic seeds from farmers all over the world to deliver to farmers in Puerto Rico, while MAOF has roamed the island, gathering fallen trees and processing them into lumber, with which they hope to build a sailboat to navigate the Caribbean and restore historic bonds and trade routes amongst the islands. ‘Suddenly all these ‘nutty’ ideas don’t seem so crazy anymore,’ Linares said. ‘People can see that it’s artists who are actually ready to survive the apocalypse.’ 

Main image: Artists at Beta-Local, San Juan, 2018. Photograph: Beta-Local. 

Erica Dawn Lyle

Erica Dawn Lyle is the editor of SCAM magazine and a cofounder of 7 Belvidere, a social space in Bushwick. Her latest book is Streetopia (Booklyn, 2015).

City Report
Puerto Rico
Artist Space
Michy Marxuach
Beatriz Santiago Muño
Michael Linares
Sofia Gallisa Murientes
Pablo Guardiola
Erica Dawn Lyle

城市报道-飓风玛利亚之后的11年4月2018日,在遭遇波多黎各遭受的最严重风暴后,美国艺术家遭遇了媒体灾难的挑战,当地的艺术家们正试图想象一个更可持续的风暴。去年九月,Erica Dawn Lyle飓风过后,波多黎各陷入了混乱状态。在特朗普政府之后,联邦紧急事务管理局(FEMA)和国际救援组织缓慢地运送急需的食物和供应品给该岛,圣胡安最著名的艺术空间——贝塔当地的成员加入了该岛全岛的艺术家。救济工作的多元化组织。在风暴过后的几个月里,画廊变成了社区厨房,补助金被重新分配,艺术家们成为了房屋建设者。对于贝塔当地的董事,Michael Linares,索菲娅加里萨穆里恩特和Pablo Guardiola,风暴带来的挑战,虽然肯定是可怕的,并不完全陌生。“在波多黎各,”Linares说,“我们总是在危机状态下工作。”在玛丽亚之后的六个月里,成千上万的波多黎各人仍然没有家,没有电,没有自来水。但贝塔当地的董事坚持认为,美国大陆媒体报道的自然灾害和复苏的报道往往掩盖了波多黎各正在进行的经济危机的真实本质。由于殖民主义特有的经济学,岛上所有的自然资源都是出口的,而食品和建筑材料等必需品总是以高价从内地进口。此外,由于岛内政府拖欠了内地债权人的债务,美国实施了严厉的紧缩措施,包括关闭公立学校,而岛上的就业和基础设施投资枯竭。在过去的十年中,将近一半的一百万名波多黎各人(占该岛人口的10%)已经离开美国大陆。贝塔洛卡洛亚2.JPG WPA6021602IMG贝塔当地,圣胡安,2018。照片:Mariola Rosario。流行的气氛是贝塔当地实践的源泉,因为它是由艺术家Beatriz Santiago Mu·诺兹和Tony Cruz,连同策展人Michy Marxuach一起在200岁高峰期在马克思的老圣胡安家中打开的。8经济衰退。为了让艺术家们离开这个岛——波多黎各没有研究生艺术项目和很少的机构支持——贝塔当地设计了一个智力严谨的免费公共项目框架,鼓励广泛参与。在贝塔当地,艺术家教和学习其他艺术家。这个小组提供了一个公共阅览室和一所免费学校,其中任何一个来自公众的人都可以提出活动或课程,而这个空间举办了一个负担得起的每月聚餐,这已经成为圣胡安艺术家们的热门聚会场所。在他们的工作的核心是一个国际居留计划和一个密集的研究沙龙,称为“实践”,其中一小部分艺术家共同工作九个月的会议,调查和响应特定政治和经济状况的PUE。RTO Rico和加勒比。“这些举措已经使波多黎各的小而紧密的艺术家群体与国际艺术家进行对话和合作,而贝塔当地的本土社区自助的例子促进了波多黎各艺术家日益增长的运动。他的工作调查并促进通往物质自给自足的道路。在2010,艺术家Tara Rodriguez Besosa建立了EL Delimito to DeCimDA,一个有机农民的集体,最终成为一个流行的咖啡馆只供应当地种植的食物。自2014以来,迭戈·德拉·克鲁兹和莫夫的Gabriel Maldonado就对岛上倒下的树木进行木材加工,以恢复和推广当地的前殖民地材料和建筑方法。在暴风雨发生前一年,Javier Rodriguez从布鲁克林区回到波多黎各,打开了自我描述的“黑客空间”EL AlMac,这是一个工作室,罗德里格兹提供了太阳能面板安装、缝纫、养蜂、水耕等更多的公共讲习班。Javig-RDRIGEZ.JPG WPA6022602IMG Javier Rodriguez,EL AlMAC EN的创始人,圣胡安,2018。照片:作者玛丽亚在洛杉矶拍摄时,在LA出席了由“太平洋标准时间:穆日恩特/ LA”参加的两个节目的开幕式。暴风雨过后的日子里,她疯狂地在岛上寻找朋友和家人的消息。Linares和瓜迪奥拉不得不在圣胡安步行数小时寻找网络或电话连接。与此同时,贝塔当地的艺术家在墨西哥居住和工作的阿根廷艺术家Ramiro Chaves提出了向公众开放的空间。董事们最终决定,Beta本地必须以任何可能的方式为恢复工作服务。Linares说:“如果需要一个临时医院的空间,就这样吧。”穆日恩特准备好了,他在纽约组织了类似的救济工作,与此同时,在桑迪飓风桑迪严重破坏了该地区2012的地区,一个自组织的社区团体“占领桑迪沙迪”进行了重建工作。她说,在灾难中,接近是最重要的。“你必须帮助你身边的人。”在贝塔当地的救济工作最初有一个特设的质量,因为艺术家对每一天的变化的优先事项作出反应。Chaves为邻里的孩子们开了一个绘画工作室。有几天,自发的旅组织清除风暴残骸。瓜迪奥拉说:“在风暴过后的第二天,我们从海滩捡起了大约80只椰子,在街上堆了一堆,因为椰子里有好水。”在风暴的三周内,贝塔当地人变成了一个厨房,每天喂养大约50人,一个老圣胡安来为邻居留下信息的地方。贝塔当地只是一个非正式的网络艺术家空间在首都,成为临时救济站在风暴后的几个星期之一。在艾尔阿梅恩,罗德里格兹将40块损坏的太阳能板拼凑成一个弱化但功能正常的电网。当地人被邀请给他们的手机和电脑充电。艾尔马麦恩还为艺术家们提供了工作空间,并允许独立出版商La EimPurra在那里建立了一个RISoTrink打印机。更高的马拉奎塔是一家由八名妇女共同经营的桑图尔塞陶瓷和印刷工作室,它编纂了一套生活必需品,分发给整个岛南部,并免费为邻居们提供免费的热咖啡和冷水。方法。BETAAL Loalal1.1.JPG WPA60260602IMG Beta本地,圣胡安,2018。照片:贝塔当地人。Beta Price与美国大陆的艺术机构的关系使得它独特的位置帮助当地艺术家。玛丽亚、沃霍尔基金会、劳斯伯格基金会和拉美裔联合会的近一个月后,在作曲家Lin Manuel Miranda的大力支持下,每个捐赠者捐助了100000美元给贝塔当地人,该集团通过一笔应急基金重新分配给整个岛上的艺术家。被称为“SelrCho”(“手锯”)。到2018年2月1日,贝塔当地已经向波多黎各的近100名艺术家、音乐家、作家、舞蹈家、剧团和其他表演者发放了350000美元的资助。全岛的其他艺术家也继续参与引人注目的恢复工作。Chemi Rosado,最著名的项目是在艾尔纳兰基托的一个小绿荫区画上所有的房子,同样的绿荫,他继续组织救援队;Edgardo Larregui的长期运行的社区艺术团体,科科·德罗,已经开始重建家园和提供。虽然熟悉的游客已经回到了旧式圣胡安的贝塔当地空间之外的古色古香的街道上,穆日恩特说风暴迫使波多黎各人面对他们岛上的贫困,使他们回归常态是不可能的。她设想贝塔当地正在进行的促进波多黎各自给自足的项目,作为一项更广泛的努力的一部分,以提供一系列文化防御,以抵御来自海外离岸企业集团的一系列“后玛丽亚公立学校关闭”、“基础设施私有化”和“房地产投机”。例如,自从暴风雨以来,贝索萨从全世界的农民那里收集了有机种子给波多黎各的农民,而莫夫则在岛上漫游,收集倒下的树木,并把它们加工成木材,他们希望建造一艘帆船去加勒比海和加勒比地区航行。在这些岛屿之间撕毁历史性的债券和贸易路线。Linares说:“突然之间,所有这些‘疯狂’的想法似乎不再那么疯狂了。”“人们可以看到,艺术家们实际上已经准备好在灾难中幸存了。”主要形象:Beta Price的艺术家,圣胡安,2018。照片:Beta Surviv.ErICa黎明Lyle ErICA Dunn Lyle Nbsp,是《骗局》杂志的编辑,也是布什威克BelvIDEL 7社交空间的创办人。她最近出版的书是Streetopia(BooLyn,2015)。城市报告贝塔波多黎各加勒比艺术家空间社区米奇Muuuh BeaTrz圣地亚哥MuNIO米迦勒LIARES SOFIA GalISA Murites Pabro瓜迪奥拉ErICA黎明莱尔


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