We didn’t ask permission, we just did it…
August 31–December 8, 2023
Mishkin Gallery is pleased to present We didn’t ask permission, we just did it…, a vibrant and experimental exhibition guest curated by Manuela Paz and Christopher Rivera of Embajada. The show revisits and honors the legacy of three historic exhibition series in Puerto Rico from 2000 to 2016 that foregrounded the independent spirit of art making across the region during a time of hopeful possibility. Those three exhibition histories include M&M Proyectos’ PR invitationals, organized by Michy Marxuach; the Gran Tropical Bienals, founded by Pablo León de la Barra; and Cave-In, initiated by Mike Egan.
The exhibitions, which took the form of idiosyncratic biennials, happenings, and installations, have had lasting impacts on practicing artists and in part spurred the self-reliant gallery community that flourishes in San Juan, Puerto Rico today. Drawing on the archives of each project, the exhibition features a selection of works by Puerto Rican and international artists working in an array of unconventional materials, along with documentation and ephemera. Taking place during an era of bankruptcy and political tension, the curators and artists in the exhibition embraced the ruins of modernity and empire and perceived anything as possible. We didn’t ask permission, we just did it… conveys the sense of ambition, collective action, and self-sufficiency of experimental artist communities despite infrastructural limitations.
Rather than serve as a static repository, the archives from which this exhibition is built are still expanding. They provide creative opportunities for curatorial interaction, collaborative investigation, and trans-disciplinary experimentation. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, students from Baruch College will engage with the exhibition, actively taking part in researching and producing oral history projects and zines connected to the relatively new history. Artists and curators from Puerto Rico will be invited to expand the understanding of their work through public talks, podcasts, performances, and workshops while also activating local collaborations with the Puerto Rican diasporic arts community throughout New York City. A bilingual publication produced for the exhibition, including an essay by the curators, is available here.
The exhibition is guest curated by Manuela Paz and Christopher Rivera of Embajada, an independent, self-funded gallery founded in San Juan in 2015. Named after the Spanish word for embassy, Embajada serves as a bridge connecting artists on the island with the rest of the world, fostering connections to the contemporary art world. Inspired by the spirit of experimentation in the region and following the groundbreaking exhibitions by Marxuach, de la Barra, and Egan, Embajada expands upon its mission by highlighting these three key projects that had a hand in shaping many artists’ practices both in the region and internationally.
We didn’t ask permission, we just did it… has been curated by Manuela Paz and Christopher Rivera of Embajada. Major support is provided by Hedwig Feit and the Schindler-Lizana Fund for Latin American Arts and Culture. Additional supported provided by The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation. The exhibition is made possible by Friends of the Mishkin Gallery and the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences at Baruch College (CUNY). An earlier iteration of this exhibition was presented at The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) St. Louis in 2022.
Allora & Calzadilla, Lucas Blalock, Borden Capalino, Carolina Caycedo, Oswaldo Colón Ortiz, Lourdes Correa-Carlo, Edmée Feyyo, Radamés “Juni” Figueroa, Jorge González Santos, Vanessa Hernández Gracia, Federico Herrero, Alana Iturralde, Jessica Kairé, Esther Kläs, Ajay Kurian, Ignacio González-Lang, José Lerma, Liliana Porter, Daniel Lind-Ramos, Christopher Rivera, Adriana Martínez Barón, Matilsha Marxuach, Lionel Maunz, Andy Meerow, Jesús “Bubu” Negrón, Damián Ortega, Ernesto Pujol, Dhara Rivera, Jorge Rivera, Joel “Yoyo” Rodriguez, Monica Rodriguez, Marxz Rosado, Chemi Rosado-Seijo, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Chaveli Sifre, Edra Soto, Andra Ursuța, and Alterazioni Video.
Founded in 2015, and named after the Spanish word for embassy, Embajada is a gallery based in San Juan, Puerto Rico which serves as a bridge connecting artists on the island with the rest of the world, fostering connections to the contemporary art world. For more information, visit embajadada.com.