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PROMESA: The Fiscal Crisis in Puerto Rico and the Debt of Artists

Saturday, October 14, 2017 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EDT


In partnership with NYU’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Latino Studies, El Museo del Barrio presents a special panel discussion in Debfair, a project by the artist collective Occupy Museums. This research-based project, featuring works by 10 artists from Puerto Rico, was organized by Occupy Museums and is currently on display in our galleries. The discussion will focus on the debt crisis, the implications of Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) and artists’ relationship to this economic reality in Puerto Rico.

Featured speakers include: Yarimar Bonilla, professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University; Noah Fischer, artist, activist and co-founder of Occupy Museums, Yasmin Hernández, artist, activist and educator; Christopher Lew, curator, Whitney Museum of American Art; Celestino Ortiz, artist, musician and performer, and Adrián Viajero Román, artist, activist, and educator.

To RSVP, click here.



Immediately following the panel discussion, we will be hosting ARTE FOR PUERTO RICO, an #arte #music benefit aimed at providing relief efforts for ‘La Isla’. The event will feature a cash bar, live musical performances, art work for sale, and more. All proceeds will go to a local charity providing much-needed resources at this time. We encourage everyone to come out and show your solidarity as we support Puerto Rico in spirit, time, and contributions.  Pa’lante!

Admission: $5 minimum donation will be taken at the entrance.


Yarimar Bonilla is a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University where she teaches and writes about social movements, colonial legacies, and questions of race, sovereignty, and nation across the Americas. Bonilla has written about the politics of hashtag activism within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and the semiotics of digital protest in the context of Guadeloupe. Professor Bonilla has been the recipient of multiple grants and awards from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation, the Chateaubriand Fellowship Program, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia, and the W.E.B. Dubois Institute at Harvard University. Bonilla is currently Section Editor of Public Anthropologies for the journal American Anthropologist, and serves on the editorial committee for Small Axe: A Caribbean Platform for Criticism, and the board of the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. 

Noah Fischer works at the crossroads between the political road of economic and social inequity and poetic pathway of art practice. His sculpture, drawing, performance, writing, and organizing practice fluctuate between object making and direct action as well as an ongoing theatrical collaboration with Berlin based andcompany&Co.  Fischer has a particular focus on art institutions; He is the initiating member of Occupy Museums and a member of GULF/ Gulf Labor; his collaborative work has been seen (with and without invitation) at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Guggenheim, Brooklyn Museum, ZKM, and Venice, Athens, and Berlin Biennales among other venues. With Occupy Museums, Noah participated in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. Noah teaches at Parsons School of Art and Design and maintains a studio practice in Brooklyn New York.

Occupy Museums (Arthur Polendo, Imani Jacqueline Brown, Kenneth Pietrobono, Noah Fischer, and Tal Beery)
Formed during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011, Occupy Museums connects the struggle for economic and social equity to art institutions, highlighting instances when they propagate and normalize injustice. The collective has worked in tandem with activist networks to stage numerous direct actions in major museums in NYC and abroad and was a participant in the 2017 Whitney Biennial where they exhibited Debtfair, a platform that categorizes artists according to their debts and other financial realities. The system reveals the relationships binding individuals to the banks holding their loans—a hidden but highly consequential factor underlying American art that is relevant to the economic crisis in Puerto Rico.

Yasmin Hernández is a Brooklyn-born and raised artist whose work is rooted in struggles for personal, political and spiritual liberation. She explores these themes through her paintings and mixed-media works, portraits primarily, that weave storytelling through layered images, text and calligraphy. Yasmin has received various recognitions for her commitment to community building through the arts. Yasmin’s art projects have been supported by the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, the Puffin Foundation, The Center for Puerto Rican Studies and the George Sugarman Foundation. Yasmin attended the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan and holds a BFA in Painting from Cornell University. Yasmin has developed community education initiatives on themes of art and liberation and has worked as an educator with the Studio Museum in Harlem, El Museo del Barrio in New York City and Taller Puertorriqueño, Inc. in Philadelphia, among other arts and cultural institutions.

Christopher Y. Lew is an American art curator, an associate curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and with (Mia Locks) co-curator of the 2017 edition of the Whitney Biennial. Prior to his position at the Whitney he was an assistant curator at MoMA PS1. In the fall of 2015, he was appointed co-curator of the 2017 Whitney Biennial. The Biennial was the first one to be held in the museum’s new Meatpacking District structure designed by Renzo Piano.

Celestino Ortiz was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has taken various courses in drawing and painting with artists such as Freddie Mercado, Besty Padín, Carmelo Sobrino and Noemi Ruiz. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Y Gallery and at the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance both in New York, and at various other venues in Puerto Rico. He has been included in a number of group exhibitions in Paris, Houston, New York and throughout Puerto Rico. His work is represented in several private collections in New York, New Jersey, Argentina and Puerto Rico. He has performed or has been featured on a variety of media programs. Through his Estudio Celestino, he interviews significant figures in the arts, music an culture scene of the island.

Adrián Viajero Román was born in New York City of Puerto Rican descent. Throughout his travels to the Caribbean, Central America, Africa, and a number of cities across the United States, he has come into contact with a variety of cultures that have influenced his work. Viajero is an artist resident of the NARS Foundation in Brooklyn New York, and works closely with the Caribbean Cultural Center/African Disapora Institute in New York City. In 2012, he exhibited at Museo de Arte de Caguas, Puerto Rico as part of the group show AFROLATINOS, which was awarded Best Exhibit 2012 by the International Association of Art Critics. Viajero was most recently nominated for the Joan Mitchell Foundation grant for painters and sculptors. He has exhibited in solo and group shows in the United States and Puerto Rico.

OCCUPY MUSEUMS: Debtfair, and its accompanying public program is supported, in part, by CLACS and Latino Studies, NYU.


Saturday, October 14, 2017
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EDT


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