press release

CHICAGO—The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago (MoCP) presents Temporal: Puerto Rican Resistance from April 9 – July 3, 2020.

Temporal: Puerto Rican Resistance explores Puerto Rico’s contemporary history as an unincorporated territory of the United States. The exhibition traces the continued impact of three recent major events: the enactment of the US federal law titled the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) in 2016 to oversee the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis—which has resulted in detrimental cuts to the island’s public services, the US response to Hurricane María in 2017, and the mass protests in July 2019 that forced the governor's resignation. Artists include Christopher Gregory-Rivera, Natalia Lassalle-Morillo, Mari B. Robles López, Eduardo Martínez, Ojos Nebulosos, Adriana Parrilla, Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo, Erika P. Rodríguez, Edra Soto, SUPAKID, and Rogelio Báez Vega. The exhibition is organized by MoCP curatorial fellow for diversity in the arts Dalina Aimée Perdomo Álvarez.

Temporal takes its name from a Puerto Rican plena song, which roughly translates to “storm.” Plena, a style of music with Afro-Caribbean origins dating back to the early 1900s, has been referred to as the “sung newspaper” of the people and often incorporated into protests chants on the island. The exhibition follows in the storytelling style of this traditional Puerto Rican musical genre, showcasing documentation of protests, life during and after María, and art of the resistance.

The museum’s ground floor galleries will trace the impact of Hurricane María, exploring issues of poor infrastructure and economic sustainability in a financial crisis. Additional galleries will be dedicated to the historic silencing of the independence movement in Puerto Rico, as well as evolution of the Puerto Rican resistance movement, especially in relation to the July 2019 protests.

Highlights of the exhibition include a piece by Chicago-based artist Edra Soto, whose large-scale installation Graft (2020) features viewfinders where visitors can discover Soto’s photographs from the day after Hurricane María. Other notable pieces include works by Mari B. Robles López, whose photograph Paro Nacional, julio 24 (2019) featuring activists banging on pots and pans during a protest will be printed on a collection of four actual pots and pans and displayed on the wall of the gallery. Other works include pieces by the photojournalist Erika P. Rodríguez, whose photographs documenting Puerto Rico during the hurricane and recent protests have frequently appeared in The New York Times.

“The exhibition is an attempt to make sense of the tumultuous recent years the island has had, as well as a contemporary reimagining of the traditional cultural element of plena music and its stories,” said Perdomo Álvarez.

The MoCP is supported by Columbia College Chicago, the MoCP Advisory Board, the Museum Council, individuals, and private and corporate foundations. The 2019-2020 exhibition season is generously sponsored by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the Efroy