Puerto Rican publication, Dialogo Digital ran a review and interview of “Transmit-Transit” Hatuey Ramos Fermin’s first solo show in NYC that I curated. The article presents an in depth interview with Hatuey regarding the development and concepts behind the exhibition currently on exhibit at the Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos in the Bronx.
Hatuey Ramos Fermín’s first solo exhibition in NYC opens tomorrow night at the Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos! Last fall, Dominican / Puerto Rican artist Hatuey asked me to work with him and to help him realize his first solo show as its curator. I listened to his concept – an exhibition that investigates the livery cab drivers in the Bronx and was intrigued and agreed to help however I could. The conversation got started, we shared ideas, he presented to me portions of his interviews with drivers, I gave the best feedback possible and tried to lend some direction in how to translate the video interviews into a gallery installation and Hatuey executed!
The show looks great and presents an intriguing insight into the little considered labor of the livery cab drivers. I also wrote an essay and designed a small catalog in the form of a full spread newspaper sheet, English on one side, Spanish on the other and featuring a map created by Michael E Jimenez for the exhibition.
The day before the opening, Hatuey and I did a walk through and here are a couple photos taken.
And below is an excerpt from the essay that I wrote for the exhibition:
“Attending to the local, by taking the local seriously” this is the mission of TRANSMIT – TRANSIT. Ramos Fermín has engaged in deconstructing an element of local space to investigate just one detail of modernity and globalization. He has not done so as a traditional artist, walking the streets of the Bronx, getting lost in the vernacular of the city to generate creative musings that reflect one person’s vision. Instead he has worked as an investigative journalist or documentary filmmaker. Ramos Fermín has logged several hours of video interviews with livery cab drivers, he has visited several dispatch offices, diners, gas stations, car repair shops… the local spaces of the drivers. Over the last several months, he has engaged with the livery cab community to learn of its reality, document it and create an engaging portrayal that is both attentive and serious. The final outcome of his investigation is a rich installation that attempts to capture the hardship and diversity of the trade. And the encompassing device of the installation is the live radio feed from cab livery dispatches surrounding the gallery.
By incorporating the live radio dispatch, Ramos Fermín transforms the gallery visitor from art viewer to voyeur, listening in on the orders being transmitted all around us. Radio transmissions that direct one human being to drive a vehicle to a specific site, pick up a passenger, and drive to a new destination. It happens at all hours of each day; it is a common reality of the urban space and absolutely nothing exceptional. And yet it is fascinating to take a moment, listen and consider the wide implications of these transmissions. By having us listen, Ramos Fermín effectively dislocates our consciousness into a private space – that radio spaces employed between dispatch and drivers – transmissions that we are only privy to when in a cab and even then hardly take note of. But when these transmissions are re-contextualized within the gallery walls, when we are invited to listen, not as passengers eager to arrive at our destination, but rather as art viewers expecting to engage with creative work, the transmissions gain new depths. The gallery becomes a portal to an alternate real-time reality – we listen to what others are doing and experiencing at that same moment, but elsewhere, not far, but beyond the gallery’s walls.