A Post(al) Colonial Correspondence

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This Project was commissioned by the The third edition of the Trienal Poligráfica de San Juan América Latina y el Caribe, 2012 entitled the Panal/ The Hive.

Photo documentation by Hatuey Ramos-Fermín & Carlos Ruíz-Valarino

“The purpose of mail art, an activity shared by many artists throughout the world, is to establish an aesthetical communication between artists and common people in every corner of the globe, to divulge their work outside the structures of the art market and outside the traditional venues and institutions: a free communication in which words and signs, texts and colours act like instruments for a direct and immediate interaction.”

Loredana Parmesani (1)

This regular mail art project made links, exchanges, and bridges between three Puerto Rican artists from different generations, artistic backgrounds and visions. The artists are based in New York City Hatuey Ramos Fermín, Oscar Mestey-Villamil in Puerto Rico and Brenda Cruz in Spain. Every artist was responsible for designing, writing, and sending regular mail to each other over of a six-month period.

Background History

The Arsenal de la Marina in San Juan Puerto Rico is a neoclassical style building finished in the 19th century by the Spanish military. Among the original uses of this building were a base for docking and maintenance of Spanish boats, warehouse facilities, living quarters for military personnel including a chapel, among other uses. When the United States invaded Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War in 1898, it was the place where the Spanish army made a last effort to hold back the advancing Americans. After the defeat of the Spanish forces, this building was the last structure occupied by the Spanish military not only on the island but also in the Americas as a whole. The Arsenal de la Marina is the site of the change from one colonial military power to another in the history of Puerto Rico. Today the Arsenal de la Marina has become an important art gallery managed by the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture.

Theme

Using the history of the Arsenal de la Puntilla as a point of departure, a metaphor and a site for investigation, the three artists  corresponded with each other by meditating, reflecting and commenting on contemporary and historical sociopolitical themes between the three nations (United States of America, Spain and Puerto Rico). The framing of this “traveling art show” is an exploration of the idea of transitional sites and transitional times.


1-)  Loredana Parmesani, text under the entry “Poesia visiva”, in “Lʼarte del secolo – Movimenti, teorie, scuole e tendenze 1900-2000”, Giò Marconi – Skira, Milan 1997