Wallscape. Intervention in the permanent collection of El Museo del Barrio. La Bienal: This is where we Jump. New York, 2013
Wallscape has an antecedent in the series Stolen Paint that I started in 2008 in Havana, Cuba. Back then, I decided to incorporate in my artistic process the way Cubans survive the daily hardships, by stealing and re-selling the state’s property in the black market. In that series, I “stole” paint ships that were already aging and falling apart from walls, doors, chairs, cars, etc. all around Havana, and used them in collages on canvas and paper.
Once living in the States my Stolen series began to relate to other concepts and contexts. When Rocío Aranda Alvarado and Raúl Zamudio invited me to participate in the biennial of El Museo del Barrio, I had in mind I wanted to reproduce the piece that was in the wall in front of the one I was assigned. I also knew I would use the old paint I found on the wall, but I had no exact idea of how the result was going to look like. The piece in the front wall ended up being very colorful, carnavalesque, and baroque (Goat Song #5: Tumult on George Washington Avenue, 1988, by Manuel Macarulla,) and the paint I found in my wall was mostly monochromatic, with different tones of white.
Even when part of the Biennial, Wallscape was placed in one of the rooms where El Museo’s permanent collection is shown. Therefore, it was an intervention in the permanent collection as well. With this piece, I was interested in raising questions on the role of art institutions today, and their relationship with contemporary art. My wall —an exhibition wall— stopped being a neutral element, that doesn’t interfere physically or aesthetically in what is shown. After re-arranging its surface, it became the protagonist and, at the same, it was invalidated as a museum wall forever. It died as an exhibition wall, and became an art piece, which the museum could keep or destroy after the exhibition was over.
After a year on view, El Museo chose to permanently preserve Wallscape. In August, 2014, a protection layer was added to the wall, thus effectively changing the gallery’s layout. The new wall, built in front of the original one, became the new exhibition wall, which could be removed in order to show Wallscape again, in the future.