On July 7, the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) at Columbia College Chicago reopened after months of closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening includes an anticipated exhibition highlighting Puerto Rican struggle and resistance under present-day U.S. colonialism.
Originally scheduled from April 9 to July 3, 2020, Temporal: Puerto Rican Resistance opened to the public last week with some precautions. The free exhibition, which will now run until September 19, 2020, has timed ticketing and requires the limited number of attendees to wear face masks and social distance throughout the viewing experience.
In an effort to explore the archipelago’s contemporary history as a U.S. territory, Temporal traces three recent major events—the 2016 enactment of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), the US response to Hurricane María in 2017, and the summer 2019 mass protests that ousted former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.
“I wanted to show that it wasn’t just a hurricane that has Puerto Rico in crisis. We’ve seen budget cuts… hundreds of schools have been closed, and the infrastructure, which was already fragile just due to neglect, has just been exacerbated by the natural disasters,” MoCP curatorial fellow for diversity in the arts and organizer of the exhibition Dalina Aimée Perdomo Álvarez told Chicago’s PBS station WTTW.
The exhibition’s title takes its name from the Puerto Rican plena song “Temporal,” which translates to “storm.” Plena is an Afro-Caribbean folkloric genre that has been referred to as a “sung newspaper,” with songs often relaying the class, race and colonial struggles of low-income Puerto Ricans of the 1900s. The exhibition follows this musical tradition by using photographs to document the current social justice battles of island-based Boricuas.
“I wanted to also show the resistance. I was tired of hearing the word ‘resilient.’ I feel that puts a lot of weight on the people who are consistently victimized. So I chose resistance as a counterword,” Álvarez said.
Temporal includes works from artists and photographers like Erika P. Rodríguez, Ojos Nebulosos, Mari B. Robles López, Eduardo Martínez, Natalia Lassalle-Morillo and more.
Interested guests can reserve a ticket on the Museum of Contemporary Photography’s website.