Interpretation of the Sonnet of the Stars (Homenage to Esteban Valdés)
Jesús “Bubu” Negrón
From July 10 til January 5, 2014
An Interpretation of the Sonnet of the Stars (Homage to Esteban Valdés) by Puerto Rican artist Jesús “Bubu” Negrón is new production that recuperates the work of Esteban Valdés, a poet born in Mexico that made the first book on concrete poetry in Puerto Rico. Without a canonical recognition, Negrón centers this installation on an artist who developed his literary-object practice onto actively working towards labor rights in Puerto Rico, from a Gramscian standpoint. In 1977, Valdés published Out of Work, a compilation of poems that includes one of his best known works, the “Sonnet of the Stars.”
In order to introduce Vladés to the Mexican artistic context, Negrón assumed the position of a mediator that works with the museum and the processes disregarded by the art historical discourse. While the piece can be read on three different levels, Negrón points to the tension between an intellectual and economic practice, but also to the one between a craft-based skill and a profession. As a result of a 2 month residency in Mexico City, the artist collaborated with Taller Tlamaxcalli to validate those modes of production and to incorporated these into the contemporary art system.
Pointing to its historical significance, the exhibition recuperates the original silk-screen that gave publicity to the poem in 1977. The artist worked with students, teachers and enthusiasts to produce a performance version of the piece in Cuernavaca. Along with the film-maker Rafael Ortega, Negrón finishes his homage to Vladés with a short video that shows the action filmed at La Tallera on July 2nd, but also to expand on his collaborative mode of artistic production that distinguishes Negrón’s practice.
With a global aim, Negrón is part of a generation of Puerto Rican artists that work in San Juan. The majority of these artists worked from alternative spaces to reconstruct the island’s art history. Almost a decade ago, Interpretation of the Sonnet of the Stars was meant to be realized for an exhibition to pay tribute to the poet organized a local artists, who found a forgotten copy of the book. For Negrón, producing the piece in the mexican context has allowed him to question the concept of nationhood as a failed ontological construction.