Debajo de la casa
site-specific installation and solo exhibition
El Cuadrado Gris, San Juan, PR
Debajo de la casa (underneath the house) is a site-specific project produced for El Cuadrado Gris / The Gray Square, an alternative art space located in the basement of a house in Santurce, the area in San Juan where the artist grew up. The house was built in the 1920’s in the Spanish Revival style prevalent in the area; the basement was added a couple of decades later.
The site-specific project points to the space that simultaneously connects and disconnects the house from its context: city, terrain, geography. It’s an uncertain space to be explored and investigated. It’s the space that lies between the familiar and the unknown, a space of navigation.
Entering the space, one is welcomed by a large-scale anamorphic wall drawing, based on a topographic map of the area. As we enter and navigate the space, the image gets fragmented and distorted, and seems to surround us as it merges with a second anamorphic drawing, viewable in full from the opposite end of the gallery. A column of old books, which used to belong to the artist’s grandfather, extends from floor to ceiling at the farthest corner of the space, with their spines against the wall. This column speaks about memory and time passed while visually suggesting geologic strata. Across from it, a small video screen plays the image of a light bulb as it flickers inconsistently, perhaps as an eerie signal. A white charcoal drawing on the ceiling mirrors the pattern of the 1920’s floor tile located in the room right above the space, as well as a tile pattern from the home of the artist’s grandparents.
This project plays with ideas of displacement and dislocation through an exploration of the space’s architecture and how we move though it. Debajo de la casa activates the walls, columns and ceiling, reimagining the space as one that is fluid and ephemeral, as it relates to its architecture, geography and memory.