Weekly Update 1 – Roxana Perez-Mendez at Powel House

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This week’s Weekly has my Editor’s Pick review of Roxana Perez-Mendez’s La Declaracion at Powel House. Below is the copy. More photos at flickr and see Libby’s post for more.

Roxana Perez-Mendez
Roxana Perez-Mendez’s Puerto Rican flag outside Powel House. The artist said that the flag drew in some Puerto Rican natives the night of the opening. They didn’t know what was in the house but the flag told them to go in and check it out.

Outside the Colonial mansion on Third Street hangs a Puerto Rican flag, part of Roxana Perez-Mendez’s Landmarks Contemporary Project at the Powel House. It’s just one of the subtle Caribbean subversions inserted into the Georgian-era house where George Washington and Ben Franklin dined.

Roxana Perez-Mendez
The Powel House music room with the Radio Shack transmitter on the music stand. Sounds like harpsichord music but it’s really steel string guitar.

Perez-Mendez’s touch is light, and the piece works best in the upstairs music room where harpsichord-like music broadcasts via a small Radio Shack transmitter placed on a music stand. The music sounds like Bach but is actually “La Borinqueña,” Puerto Rico’s national anthem. Its mournful, fugue-like strains are believably Baroque and fit in well with the ambience. It makes you imagine a colonial-era Puerto Rico, something most Americans visiting Powel House won’t have considered.

Roxana Perez-Mendez
The artist, who is a performer in her self-created videos, here imagines herself as a Spanish-speaking colonial.

Perez-Mendez creates—on video monitors set up in the parlor—a fantasy of a Spanish-speaking colonial-era woman trapped in a time warp, isolated but longing for connection. A metaphor for America’s stepchild island nation, Perez-Mendez’s piece suggests we should tell the story of Puerto Rico alongside the story of America. It’s a great idea.

Roxana Perez-Mendez: “La Declaracion”
Through April 1. $5. Powel House, 244 S. Third St. 215.627.0364.

Tags

la declaracion, powel house, roxana perez-mendez

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