The Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture presents a lecture by Pablo Delano on his installation The Museum of the Old Colony, on view at the CADVC from January 30 through March 14. The lecture will be presented in the gallery.
This presentation will trace the development and growth of The Museum of the Old Colony, an art installation by Pablo Delano that derives its name from a U.S. brand of soft drink named Old Colony, popular in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. Through the use of appropriated imagery, film clips, and objects, the installation ironically bears witness to the colonial oppression imposed by the U.S. institutional and cultural fabric on virtually all aspects of Puerto Rican life since the 1898 occupation. With sardonic humor, The Museum of the Old Colony references traditional anthropological museums and their use of ethnographic imagery and didactic texts.
For the past twenty years, Pablo Delano, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, has collected artifacts related to the history of his homeland. After amassing a substantial archive, he began to think about the ways he could, as a visual artist, employ these materials to explore this history. Delano creates dynamic, site-specific art installations that examine the complex and fraught history of U.S. colonialism, paternalism, and exploitation in Puerto Rico. They challenge, as well, the ways traditional museums of history and anthropology tell this story.
The title of The Museum of the Old Colony is a play on words, referencing both the island’s political status and, Old Colony, a popular local soft drink. Spanning more than a century of objects and images, Delano’s installation illuminates the oppression of the past while alluding to the stark reality of Puerto Rico in the present — an unincorporated territory of the United States where U.S. citizens continue to be exploited, ignored, and underrepresented.
The devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017 — and the inadequate federal response that has resulted in widespread displacement, suffering, and death — underscores the second class status of Puerto Rico throughout history. The Museum of the Old Colony asks us to imagine the powerful connection between past and present: lurid and exoticized images of the devastation, exploitation, economic decline, and abandonment that remain tragically salient and topical.
The Museum of the Old Colony is also deeply personal, a means for Delano to better understand and come to terms with the troubling history of Puerto Rico. In the end, his cogent work liberates the story of a people from the limitations and blind spots of history, the museum, and popular culture.Learn More