The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this essay, independent curator Berta M. Sichel explores Pepon Osorio’s proclivity toward excess, which she deems a “surprise” within the context of contemporary Latino art. A Puerto Rican living in New York City, Osorio has not experimented with figurative painting, which was the main medium and favored trend in Puerto Rico. Nor has he had an interest in the geometric, nonrepresentational styles of the better-known Latin American artists. Sichel states that his densely layered art reflects a multifaceted identity derived from the hybrid culture of Latin America; Puerto Rican popular taste; his own Latino experience on the mainland; and his awareness of the aesthetic possibilities in the First World. This sequencing of worldviews uses the past as a cultural warehouse to create an intermediate space in which the visible/invisible cohabitate.
Pepon Osorio (b. 1955) grew up in Santurce, Puerto Rico; and later moved to New York City in the wake of Minimalism and Conceptualism, two movements defined by their “less is more” sensibility. After receiving an undergraduate degree in sociology from Lehman College in the Bronx, and a master’s degree in art education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, he began to work primarily with Latino communities as a social worker for the Child Abuse Prevention Unit of the Human Resources Administration in New York. This experience as a social worker would lay the foundation for his later artistic collaborations with Puerto Rican/Latino communities. Today, Osorio is one of the most significant artists in the United States; a master of installation art, his work is known for baroque and polemically charged environments. The artist’s use of mass-produced objects, coupled with his socio-anthropological savvy—gained in part from his having been a social worker in the South Bronx—offers the spectator the potential for multiple readings of his work. In the end, his work speaks to the Latino community, as well as to society in general. Numbering among the most important of the many awards Osorio has received, are the CalArts Award in the Arts, and the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.