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  • ICAA Record ID
    White, David R.
    Rescatar y descargar : unmelting the pot = derritiendo el crisol / David R. White
    Con ToLos Hierros: A retrospective of the work of Pepón Osorio. -- New York: El Museo del Barrio, 1991
    p. 23 - 29 : ill.
    English; Spanish
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    White, David R. “Rescatar y Descargar: Unmelting the Pot = Derritiendo el Crisol.” In Con ToLos Hierros: A retrospective of the work of Pepón Osorio, 23–29.  Exh. cat., New York: El Museo del Barrio, 1991.

In this bilingual essay, David R. White, the director and executive producer of the Dance Theater Workshop, traces Pepón Osorio’s syncretism of aesthetic genres through his collaborative practices with either performance artists or dancers. In 1978, White describes how Osorio met fellow Puerto Rican choreographer Merián Soto who would become his main collaborator throughout the years. Later on in the early-1980s, independent dance artist, Patti Bradshaw, joined them to form the collective Pepatian. These collaborative projects would illuminate the artists’ goals of building a framework that captured their culture while simultaneously setting it free. As far as Osorio’s aesthetic is concerned, White considers his impulse to “scavenge and salvage” as the motto for the Puerto Rican artist’s style of guerilla archeology to whom “no object, ornament or slice of life would be irrelevant in their excavation of the everyday.” The author establishes a pertinent parallel between the aims of this artistic methodology, and the Puerto Rican concept of rescatadores de terreno [rescuers of land], which was a space appropriation and community building strategy that was implemented in the 1960s by an ad hoc cross-section of political activists, artists, and ordinary people without a stake in the official structures of real estate. This idea of rescue, in order to make space for the most basic level of daily life, denotes the larger significance of Osorio’s collaborative works. To wit: to assert the primacy of the most intimate structure of culture, and create parameters for both a living and analytical continuum between New York City and Puerto Rico.


Born in 1955 in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Pepon Osorio is one of the most important artists in the United States today. 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 a socio-anthropological savvy that he gained in part from having been a social worker in the South Bronx offers the spectator the potential for multiple readings of his work. In the end they speak not only to the Latino community but to society in general. Among the many awards Osorio has received, it is important to highlight that he was a 1999 recipient of both the CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts, and the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. Con To' Los Hierros [Armed to the Teeth] was a 1985 retrospective of Osorio’s early career that encompassed the transformational processes that this Puerto Rican artist’s visual vocabulary underwent. From hybrid creations of functional objects, to instances of Conceptual art, this catalogue also explored the performance pieces borne out of his collaborative relationships with Puerto Rican choreographer/dancer Merián Soto (b. 1954).

Libertad Guerra
© 1991, Provided courtesy of the Private Archives of David R. White, Hopkinton NH.
Reproduced with permission of El Museo del Barrio (From David R. White, "Rescatar y Descargar: Unmelting the Pot/Derritiendo el Crisol"), New York, NY