heryk tomassini

I explore the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States as seen through the convergence of the natural, financial, and built environments. I am interested in the rhetorics that facilitate the mass appeal of the island by means of offered commodity goods and services. To examine these phenomena is to engage the complexities and contradictions of the socio-political relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States of America.

I carry this out through a re-interpretive use of symbols, iconography and/or objects that represent the socio-economic layers and arguments of this cultural history, one steeped in colonially structured resource extraction, alliances, and relationality paradigms. The generous tax exemption laws for foreign investors (present and past) such as the Jones act and Operation Boost Trap, and the recent after-effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria, among other points on this timeline, are some of the topics I analyze. Each of these issues is emblematic of larger ambiguities related to the culture of uneven “exchange.” I look to different approaches, further contexts, and new narratives in order to produce discussions of possible solutions to these iniquities, and at the same time problematize the condition of living on the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico, a territory liminal to the United States of America.

My installations pose questions about space, aesthetics, and architecture in relation to practices and concepts of sculpture. At the same time they make the spectator/participant part of the piece in order to create an experience that questions simple dichotomies of ideology and form that are present within these multi-layered works. I show an interest in incorporating discarded materials related to domesticity (Ikea furniture. blue tarp, car audio systems, leftover fabric), and use imagery and/or video, as a mode of salvage and juxtaposition. By these means, I strive to break the framing of Puerto Rico as a ‘a disempowered island,’ and instead look to the networks of relationality, as well as the long arc of the climate crisis, to channel a new history of representation and exchange.

Tomassini born in Puerto Rico (1974) and he obtained an MFA in 2018 from Upenn.