Puerto Rico: Recontar, Revelar, Reclamar
My current work responds to the visual histories of Puerto Rico. In an act of reclamation, I have constructed a counter-archive of found, contested and reimagined photographs to serve as a site for understanding issues surrounding the political status and identity of Puerto Ricans. The most popular depictions of the island and its residents were published as ads during tourism booms and FSA/OWI imagery taken during the 1940’s by New Deal photographers. This semantic legacy still exists today. Somewhere against the illusions of the marketplace and the truth claim of documentarians, lies the public memory of a nation whose people have been either occupied or scattered.
In contrast to the ways advertising photography has been used to harken tourists to visit and consume, I have recreated studio still lifes that serve to critique, questioning the cultural signifiers of “Puerto Ricanness” partially shaped by colonizing forces. Along with advertisements, I have applied this critical approach to the documentary images which circulated at the dawn of the American Century. From 2015-2018, I revisited the original sites of historical photographs, seeing how the passage of time changed the landscape, recording the surrounding conditions in direct conversation with Jack Delano, Louise Rosskam and others. By subverting mass media and questioning the veracity of visual records, I hope to create a wider discourse of what photographic representation means to Boricuas now.