Animal PolitiQueer

A visual and sonic journey into Eduardo Alegría's Live Workshop and contextualizing exhibition

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Portrait of Eduardo Alegría (straw hat) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Welcome words by Eduardo Alegría [Español]
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During August 2019, the MAC welcomed the multifaceted artist Eduardo Alegría and his most recent musical projects Alegría Rampante and Polvos del Sahara for a series of workshops and concerts. A contextualizing exhibition addressed his youth as a queer man, his early career as a dancer, choreographer and playwright, and his stellar participation in the bands Superaquello and Alegría Rampante.

Portrait of Eduardo Alegría, photographer unknown, late 80s

Exhibition View (2017) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

The exhibition showcased some of Alegría's collaborations with other artists through a selection of materials ranging from video, to photo, costumes, drawings and memorabilia, from his own archive. The public participated in Alegría's creative process through various workshops, two concerts and the premiere of the music video -co-produced by the MAC- of the most recent Alegría Rampante song, "Jirafa", a duet with Fofé Abreu.

Exhibition view, Animal PolitiQueer.

Exhibition View (2017) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

The exhibition, guest curated by Bernat Tort, presented the evolution of a bestiary of characters and animals ranging from "Lucy" - a 1995 dance piece - to "Giraffe" - a song that refers to the repressed body, which seeks its release. When retrospectively looking at Eduardo Alegría's complete work, a caravan of strange animals is discovered in it –farifos, ducks, iguanas and platypus–; an uninterrupted concern for the evolution of the human through its transformation into the animal. It conforms a kind of queer bestiary, a set of characters that inconvenience and question the social expectations of the bodies and proposes with them a series of metamorphosis, not only of what the human has been, but, above all, of what can be. This zoological intervention by Alegría is not innocent and puts forward a political proposal. The animal in his work proposes a new "zoon politikon".

Exhibition view, Animal PolitiQueer.

Exhibition View (2017) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

While it is true that since Aristotle we already recognize ourselves as a “political animal”, this animal of the polis is traditionally seen as an animal of consensus, which negotiates its differences for the benefit of all, which follows a logic of majorities. The one Alegría proposes, however, is a queer political animal. An antisocial animal, a minority animal; an animal that positions itself - always contingently - within difference and forces the norm to bend, to expand, to break and thus give rise to an unexpected novelty. A political animal as a commitment to the future that can generate that difference.

Exhibition view, Animal PolitiQueer.

Drawings of 80s music idols (1985-1986) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Eduardo Alegría on the gender bending 1980s [Español]
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Eduardo Alegría grew up during the 70s and 80s in Puerto Rico admiring pop culture figures such as Donna Summers, Nina Hagen, Boy George, Grace Jones, the Eurythmics, Sade and Tina Turner, among others. During the 1980s, when the music video became the main promotional tool for musicians, their creativity provided a window into the possibilities of gender bending through art, costume, design and performance. These early influences are presented in the exhibition through Eduardo’s notebook drawings from 1985-86, depicting admired celebrities and self-portrait collages.

Drawings of Grace Jones, Nina Hagen and Boy George, 1985-1986. Pencil on paper, 15” x 12 ½” (38 x 31.7 cm.) ea.

Collage self portraits (1987) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

The now iconic idiosyncratic styles of the 1980s are also present in these self-portrait collages from 1987.

Eduardo Alegría's collage self portraits from 1987 incorporated the use of Xerox machines, pen, markers and crayons.

Eduardo with black eye (1986) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Eduardo Alegría on the story behind this photo [Español]
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The dangers of dressing up and being an evidently queer man are evident in this portrait from 1986.

Portrait of Eduardo Alegría with a black eye, photographer unknown, 1986

Exhibition View (2017) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Alegría's desire to "dress up" has evolved into numerous collaborations with artists and designers who create costumes for his musical projects Alegría Rampante and Polvos del Sahara, most notably with Uziel Orlandi Alegría, Gabriel Soto and Albert Torres.

Sculptural costume created by Uziel Orlandi Alegría for an Alegría Rampante concert during the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián festival in 2019. The costume consists of a block print on cotton (t-shirt) and felt (suit). Courtesy of Eduardo Alegría.

Exhibition View (2017) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Eduardo Alegría con his first performance piece, Absorbido Mismo [Español]
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Selection of various flyers, brochures, press clippings and photographs from some of Eduardo Alegría's performance and theater pieces presented in New York City and San Juan from 1991 through 2011.

Poster for Men che bi kes (1992) by Mayna MagruderMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Eduardo Alegría on the creative process behind his performance pieces [Español]
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MEN CHE BI KES (1992) was Alegría’s first individual stage production. It was composed of three original pieces: Auto, an autobiographical solo that parodied autobiographical solos; Tipos del Paleo, a dance duo developed in collaboration with Javier Cardona; and a new version of Absorbido Mismo, a piece originally presented as part of the three person show 20 y pico (1991).

Men che bi kes (1991) by Laura MagruderMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Eduardo Alegría on the piece Tipos del Paleo [Español]
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The piece Tipos del Paleo featured two men in a kind of process of evolution. From primitiveness, little by little approaching modernity. This evolution contained a queer element during all its stages. Queerness as natural. Queerness as part of our human evolution.

Pictured, Javier Cardona and Eduardo Alegría during a live performance of Tipos del Paleo in 1991. Photos by Laura Magruder. Courtesy of Eduardo Alegría.

Domingo (1994) by Eduardo Alegría and Kuki GómezMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Eduardo Alegría on his piece Domingo [Español]
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Domingo (1994) was Alegría’s second stage production, and the first in New York City. It was commissioned by Performance Space 122 and consisted of two pieces: Nice Puertorican! Nice Puertorican!, which included a semi improvised monologue and dance sequences; and Domingo, a comedic piece inspired by Puerto Rico’s countryside extraterrestrial lore.

Image from promotional postcard for Domingo at Performace Space 122, New York City in 1994. Photo by Kuki Gómez.

Lucy by Eduardo Alegría and Gisela RosarioMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Lucy is inspired by the paleontological finding of the same name - several hundred pieces of fossilized bone discovered in 1974 in Africa, at Hadar, a site in the Awash Valley of the Afar Triangle in Ethiopia, representing 40 percent of the skeleton of a female of the hominin species Australopithecus afarensis. Lucy is a companion piece of sorts to Tipos del Paleo that references representation and gender performance from a queer perspective.

Pictured, Eduardo Alegría in costume during a rehearsal for Lucy in New York City, 1994. Photo by Gisela Rosario. | Video: Performance of Lucy, Danspace Theater at St Marks Church, New York City, 1995

Exhibition View (2017) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Exhibition view. Left to right: costume for Polvos del Sahara concert by Gabriel Soto (2018), tunic by Albert Torres for an Alegría Rampante concert (2019) and block print costume by Uziel Orlandi Alegría (2019). Superaquello band photo by Yadira Abdulrahman (2007).

Exhibition View (2017) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Exhibition view. Left to right: Superaquello band photo by Yadira Abdulrahman (2007); assorted flyers and posters for Superaquello and Alegría Rampante; and costume and wig by Uziel Orlandi Alegría for Alegría Rampante concert (2017).

Farifo (2002) by Tito OteroMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Superaquello
Farifo
Cultura Viva, WIPR, 2003
Directed by Tito Otero

Exhibition View (2017) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Selection of various flyers, brochures, press clippings, photographs and drawings related to Superaquello.

Superaquello PolaroidMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Eduardo Alegría on his transition to music [Español]
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After spending several years in New York City participating in the downtown performance scene, Alegría started to ponder his economic possibilities and long term desire to stay in the city. In 1997, he decided to relocate back to Puerto Rico to start a musical project with Francis Pérez, a long time friend from his college years at the University of Puerto Rico. The resulting project became Superaquello, a name inspired by a dance piece by Alegría about an unsuccessful Puerto Rican superhero.

Superaquello's original line up is captured in these Polaroid pictures, including Patricia Dávila, Pablo Santiago, and Paul Rossi (later substituted by Jorge Castro). Photographer unknown, 2000.

Superaquello at Bar ? by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Eduardo Alegría on his approach to live performances and concerts [Español]
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Throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, Superaquello became one of the most celebrated acts in Puerto Rico's underground musical scene. Their sound intertwined traces of traditional pop, experimental electronic music, rock n’ roll and Puerto Rican folk music. The band released eight musical productions, including demos, EPs and albums. Among them are Mu Psiqui Ta, Bien Gorgeous, La Emergencia, and Superaquello interpreta Latarde.

Cuerdo (2009) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Music video for Superaquello's Cuerdo (2009). Choreographed and directed by Eduardo Alegría. Produced by Producciones Cabeza.

Esquina Periferia (2011) by Uziel Orlandi, Cristian Guzmán Cardona e Ita Venegas PérezMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Following the final break up of Superaquello in 2011, and after several years of producing very little performance work, Esquina Periferia [Periphery Corner] was Alegría’s first “full evening” production since his New York days. This "post-apocalyptic", according to Alegría, musical theater piece included many of the songs that later became part of the Alegría Rampante set. The show consisted of two parts: Feoquedigamos en directo desde el lobby del Hotel Puercoespín [Feoquedigamos live from the lobby of the Porcupine Hotel], and a new version of an earlier piece, Bus Boy Love, which had been produced and presented in NY before Alegría’s return to Puerto Rico. In it, Alegría mixed Almodovar-like melodrama with elements of camp and slapstick, which contrast with the emotionally charged and intense vulnerability on display.

Cover of the programme for the show Esquina Periferia (2011). Original drawing by Uziel Orlandi, with digital manipulation by Cristian Guzmán Cardona. Program design by Ita Venegas. | Video fragment of Bus Boy Love (2011), courtesy of Miguel Villafañe.

Poster for Hotel Puercoespín by Omar BanuchiMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Eduardo Alegría on the Hotel Puercoespín concerts [Español]
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The post-Superaquello creativity sparked by the music and lyrics produced for Esquina Periferia marked the beginning of Alegría's musical collaboration with Kristian Prieto who, along with Juan Antonio Arroyo, Nitayno Arayoán and William Jorell Román, would go on to form Alegría Rampante.

Promotional poster for the show Hotel Puercoespín (2013) by Eduardo Alegría and Kristian Prieto. Drawing by Omar Banuchi.

Exhibition View (2017) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Selection of various Alegría Rampante posters and photographs sold as merch and used to promote concerts, including the two night stint at Teatro Tapia in November, 2016 that marked the first time a rock band has played the historic theater in Old San Juan.

Clockwise from top center: Eduardo and the martians, by Omar Banuchi; Teatro Tapia concert, by Alfredo Richner; Band poster by Uziel Orlandi Alegría, Hotel Puercoespín with Eduardo and Kristian, by Omar Banuchi; Retorno al Hotel Puercoespín, by Omar Banuchi and graphic design by José Luis Vargas; band photo by Ángel Flores; Se nos fue la mano album poster, by Omar Banuchi and graphic design by Alfredo Richner.

Exhibition View (2017) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Costume and wig by Uziel Orlandi Alegría for Alegría Rampante concert (2017).

Exhibition View (2017) by Eduardo AlegríaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

During the exhibition, the gallery space was used for rehearsals, movement and scenic presence workshops, as well as the venue for concerts by Polvos del Sahara and Alegría Rampante. The designated "stage" was decorated with a mural inspired by Alfredo Richner's album cover design for Alegría Rampante's Se nos fue la mano. During regular museum hours, there was a looped projection of several of the band's music videos resulting from the enduring collaboration between Alegría and 9A5 Cine Crew (William Rosario and Kemel Jamis).

Exhibition view. Selection of Alegría Rampante posters and photos, costume and wig by Uziel Orlandi Alegría for Alegría Rampante concert (2017), Alegría Rampante music video wall with collaborations by 9A5 Cine Crew and an exceprt from Bus Boy Love on wall mounted TV screen.

El Recipiente (2011) by William Rosario CruzMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Video for the Alegría Rampante song El Recipiente. Directed by William Rosario Cruz and produced by 9A5 Cine Crew.

Polvos del Sahara in concert (2019) by Antonio Ramírez AponteMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Eduardo Alegría on Polvos del Sahara [Español]
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Among the many public events organized for Animal PolitiQueer, was a Polvos del Sahara concert. This project, which started post Hurricane Maria in 2017, was inspired by cover bands, bohemian nights and gay piano bars music. Pianist Alexandra Rivera accompanies Eduardo Alegría as he interprets popular songs, takes satirical liberties with some lyrics and pays homage to other amazing talents from Puerto Rico's independent music scene.

Pictured, Alexandra Rivera (left) and Eduardo Alegría (center and right) in full concert regalia. Photos by: Antonio Ramírez Aponte

Alegría Rampante in concert (2019) by Carlos Ruiz ValarinoMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

An intimate Alegría Rampante concert served as the closing event for Animal PolitiQueer. Roughly 85 people joined in the celebration of the life and work Eduardo Alegría continues to create through music and movement.

Photo by: Carlos Ruiz Valarino

Alegría Rampante in concert (2019) by Carlos Ruiz ValarinoMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Alegría Rampante in concert.

Photo by: Carlos Ruiz Valarino

"Jirafa" music video still (2019) by Oswaldo ColónOrtiz y Eduardo MariotaMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

The concert also featured the premiere of the music video for the song "Jirafa" by Alegría Rampante ft. Fofé Abreu (lead singer of Circo, Fofé y los Fetiches, and Clarias). The video, co-produced by the MAC, was directed by Oswaldo Ortiz Colón and shot in the otherworldly Punta Guaniquilla Natural Reserve in Cabo Rojo.

Still image from the Alegría Rampante music video "Jirafa", featuring Fofé Abreu. Directed by Oswaldo Colón Ortiz and co-produced by the Museo de Arte Contemporáaneo de Puerto Rico and Mapora.

Jirafa (2019) by Oswaldo Colón OrtizMuseo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

According to Alegría, the new song was inspired by the human body, specifically the action of walking and finding a healthy physical and spiritual posture to better navigate the ups and downs of life and time. Given the trajectory of the two singers, the song and accompanying video, are also a testament to the enduring power and resilience of the Puerto Rican independent music scene.

Video for the Alegría Rampante song "Jirafa", featuring Fofé Abreu. Directed by Oswaldo Colón Ortiz and co-produced by the Museo de Arte Contemporáaneo de Puerto Rico and Mapora.

Credits: Story

MUSEO DE ARTE CONTEMPORÁNEO DE PUERTO RICO


BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Rubén Méndez Benabe, President
Rafael Flores Pérez, Vice President
José Negrón, Treasurer
María Awilda Quintana-Román, Secretary
Salvador Alemañy
Antonio García
Pedro Muñoz Marín
Enid Picó
Letty Rivero Iturregui
Luis Fernando Rodríguez


MUSEUM STAFF
Marianne Ramírez Aponte, Executive Director and Chief Curator

Evita Busa, Deputy Director

Wanda Michelle Dilán, Administrator

Marina Reyes Franco, Curator

Mariela Collazo Heredia, Registrar

Raquel Torres Arzola and Joudy Santaliz, Education
Windy Cosme, Project Manager, MAC en el Barrio

Karin Cardona, Head Archivist

Carolina Cortés and Brenna Quigley, Development

Dalila Rodríguez Saavedra, Communications

Melinda Llompart and Alexnel Suárez, Administrative assistants


EXHIBITION
Bernat Tort, Guest Curator
Evita Busa, General Coordination
Lourdes Ranero, Registrar
Marina Reyes Franco, Exhibition Design
Sergio Hernández, Julián Collazo López, Uziel Orlandi Alegría, Exhibition Installation


Online exhibition organized by Marina Reyes Franco, MAC Curator


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Our special thanks to the sponsors of this project:
Fundación Ángel Ramos
Fondo Flamboyán para las Artes
Northwestern University


MAC SPONSORS
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Fondo Flamboyán para las Artes
Gobierno de Puerto Rico
Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña
Comisión Especial Conjunta de Fondos Legislativos para Impacto Comunitario
Ford Foundation
Filantropía PR
Fundación Ángel Ramos
Banco Popular de Puerto Rico
The National Endowment for the Arts
The Boston Foundation
Hispanic Federation
Titín Foundation
Miranda Foundation
Liberty Business


MUSIC VIDEO CREDITS
Director-Editor: Oswaldo Colón Ortiz
Producer: Oswaldo Colón Ortiz
Co-Producer: Kemel Jamis
Director of Photography: Eduardo Mariota
Camera Assistants: Adam Santos y Noelia González Casiano
Production Assistants: Tatiana Monge Herrera and Samuel Vélez
Art Director: Stephanie Segarra
Costume Designer: Héctor Omar
Props: Uziel Orlandi Alegría
Color Grading: Pablo Ascanio
Performers: Eduardo Alegría and Fofé Abreu
Choreography: nibia pastrana santiago

Thank you: Para La Naturaleza, Jochi Melero, Rafi Rivera, Gabriel Coss, Yazmin Solla, Marina Reyes Franco, Edwin Mariota, Carlos García, Álvaro Aponte Centeno, Joel Pérez, Glenda Ortiz, Oswaldo Colón Pérez, Pedro Colón Ortiz

A co-production by: Mapora and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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