Section 9

Guest Curation: Digital Sovereignties Art Exhibit

Visions of resistance against Puerto Rico’s colonially manufactured debt

curated by Abner Aldarondo

"Digital Sovereignties" deals

with how Puerto Rican artists have circulated their own images and visions of resistance against Puerto Rico’s colonially manufactured debt. The exhibition’s method of collecting – rigorous Instagram scrolling – emulates my own position as a diasporic Puerto Rican from Holyoke, MA. My political education and engagement with Puerto Rico’s debt crisis started on social media. It is also where I discovered the Puerto Rico Syllabus. This is to say that social media can serve as pedagogy, praxis, and, most importantly, a site for community-building. 


Colectivo Moriviví. “Colonia,” 2018. Mini Public Art Series. Mural. 

Project sponsored by the CPSC Office of Hampshire College.  Production done in coordination with Nueva Esperanza, Inc.  Community Mural with the youth from CUYO Social Justice Progra

Work Inspired by (De) Colonial Reconquista, Performance, 2014, by Marina Barsey Janer.

The PROMESA Act is a sharp reminder of Puerto Rico’s colonial status. Shortly after the act was passed, the anonymous collective Artistas Solidarios y en Resistencia removed the color of an iconic door with the Puerto Rican flag in el Viejo San Juan. This new version of the flag quickly became popular as a Puerto Rican symbol of resistance. The Promise is in Holyoke, MA, the city with the largest Puerto Rican population per capita in the United States. The painted door shows a back turned woman looking through a shadow-like gate. A mirror rests behind her head with the words “your reflection,” and written across her back is “colony.” What role does the diaspora play in Puerto Rico’s colonial status?

Prioritizing Debt Repayment

These digital illustrations speak to the Infrastructure & Everyday Crisis section by showing how prioritizing the debt’s repayment harms Puerto Ricans’ everyday life.These works ask us to consider the growing vulnerability of Puerto Rico’s land and infrastructure as it undergoes exploitation. 

Fernando L. Norat Pérez. “Los hoyos de Puerto Rico,” 2019. Digital art.

Cars trapped in a massive pothole in “Los hoyos de Puerto Ricomake light of driving on the Island’s roads. At the same time, its humor emphasizes how something as mundane as a pothole is an everyday reminder of degrading infrastructure.

Cuando a sus plays llegó takes a more solemn approach. It depicts a beheaded Christopher Columbus, whose likeliness is taken from The Birth of the New World statue in Arecibo. It links the present-day gentrification of Puerto Rico’s beaches to Spanish colonialism.

Quítate tu pa’ ponerme yo” (Move out of the way so that I can come) is a lyric from Eddie Dee’s song, “Los 12 discípulos.”. The use of the phrase is two-fold in Colón Guerra’s piece: it is sinister, a reminder that Puerto Rico’s beaches are under attack by capitalist vultures. On the other hand, it is a call for those same vultures to exit.

Garvin Sierra. “Cuando a sus playas llegó,” 2020. Digital art.

Rosa Colón Guerra. “Quítate tu pa’ ponerme yo,” 2021. Digital art.

La Junta and Other Monsters

Monsters are alive and real in Puerto Rico, and politicians act like them. “Se busca enjaular a esta bestiais a direct response to obstruction of justice allegations towards the former governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vázquez. Her administration was charged with mismanaging emergency supplies after powerful earthquakes rattled Puerto Rico in January 2020. “La junta references Jose Campeche y Jordan’s painting, “Agnus Dei” (1806-1809), representing the Puerto Rican coat of arms. Stamped on the seven gold ringlets are the faces of the fiscal board members. The call to trap and behead these monsters is to call for justice against a monstrous government.

Luzmarie Pagán Galán. “NO MAS!,” 2019. Watercolor.

“I’m not one to get into politics but no one should remain silent after all he’s done to our Island and people.” – Luzmarie Pagán Galán

Leaked private messages between Ricardo Rosselló, former Puerto Rican governor, and his administration sparked the 2019 Puerto Rican summer of protest. On Instagram Luzmarie Pagán Galán posted her watercolor drawing, and the vejigante’s screech seems to capture the frustration she expresses in the caption. Her vejigante’s scream also exists in both digital and physical space: it’s a mural on Calle Norzagaray, an Old San Juan tourist attraction. The screams of protest live offline and online.

Mutual Support

José Primo Hernández. “No comemos austeridad,” 2020.

No Comemos Austeridad” presents a community-operated soup kitchen. In the background, two people donate food to the operation, and two people serve a small girl. Mutual support takes form in a soup kitchen, which underscores the symbolism of the black and white Puerto Rican flag. Austerity malnourishes its people, forcing them to feed themselves.

s.alguien [Sharon Nichole González Colón]. “la siembra,” Digital art.

Two towering figures nurture and protect the verdant landscape in “la siembra. The text on their shirts, “Don’t take away my land” and “Down with the patriarchy, damn it!”, links feminism and environmentalism. The world is also somewhat upside down in “la siembra”. From above emerge hands that hold and bang pots while a sunflower comes down the middle. Perhaps protest is the weather that allows the landscape to flourish. Here, social and environmental wellbeing are inseparable.

Read s.alguien’s artist statement on Colectivo Moriviví’s website here.