(Re)Decoding the Tropical

Curated by Claudia Delaplace

Artists: Ricardo Cabret, Joiri Minaya, Shey Rivera Ríos


Opening Reception: Thursday, November 8, 2018, 7 – 9 pm

November 7 - 20, 2018
CP Projects Space, 132 W. 21st Street, 10th floor, New York, NY

Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, weekends by appointment

The School of Visual Arts is pleased to present ​(Re)Decoding the Tropical​, curated by MA Curatorial Practice fellow Claudia Delaplace.

(Re)Decoding the Tropical​ explores the ways in which three Caribbean artists interpret the idea of the tropical landscape through a digital lens. By incorporating computer graphics and contemporary pop culture references, and by utilizing different mediums, these works interrogate Western notions and perceptions of tropicality. ​(Re)Decoding the Tropical ​takes its title from one of the works in the exhibition by Dominican artist Joiri Minaya, which seeks to show both the unpredictability and singularity of the Caribbean landscape in its continual cycle of depletion, destruction, and renewal.

For hundreds of years, exploitation through colonization has been rampant in the region, with local culture fetishized as a commodity for the Western eye. ​(Re)Decoding the Tropical ​is an attempt to recognize these centuries-old traumas of Spanish and American colonization. The digital, with its breadth of tools and modes of distribution, has only magnified the Western gaze on the Caribbean as a site of exoticism and plunder. These artists take their cues from the Tropicália cultural movement that emerged in Brazil in the late 1960s. This multidisciplinary movement reacted to impositions of American culture, acted in political resistance, and attempted to create and unify native Brazilian culture.

Ricardo Cabret combines his knowledge of computer graphics with images of a Puerto Rican landscape. He transforms the traditional medium of landscape painting through algorithms to create geometric shapes and bright, loud colors that inform the exoticized gaze while nonetheless seducing our eyes. His focus is on the exploitation and destruction of Puerto Rico’s natural resources brought on by foreign investors. Joiri Minaya’s works comment as well on the landscape exoticized as a form of imperialist enterprise. Within this landscape, she pays particular attention to the women of the Dominican Republic, whose bodies have been

transformed into commodities for the colonizer. Still further, she plays with the idea of the Dominican woman ​as​ a landscape and how Internet culture has affected the perception of these women. Shey Rivera Ríos’s ​Fantasy Island​ series is a commentary on the ways in which capitalist and consumer culture have shaped the economy of Puerto Rico, with a direct impact on the landscape. She creates animated digital collages that criticize the transformation of what was once untrammeled nature into a domain of luxury hotels and empty wealth.

Image: Ricardo Cabret, Cayey, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2016.

Image courtesy of Ricardo Cabret.

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view