Half a year has passed since we took our returning flights from Aruba. By us, I am referring to a group of artists, writers and curators who I admire and now call friends. We were brought together from different parts of the Caribbean region by a powerful and magnetic gust called Ateliers ’89 and its residency Caribbean Linked.
In Aruba, the wind is as central as it is incessant, and for me it even changed its material state from gas to a solid, remaining a flexible lens through which experiences and thoughts were filtered. Yes, our airplanes landed, but once out of the door, we were surprised by a new yet natural way of going about: levitation. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d say each of us became paper meteors, also lovingly referred to as kites/chiringas/papalotes/cometas. After this metamorphosis, we all started our journey through the deep surfaces of the island and sharing them with each other, seamlessly creating a rich collective knot of experiences, as chronicled in the CL IV blog and other forums. The following lines draw and describe a detail of the vast and stimulating time in Aruba.
I grew up very close to Aruba’s location in the big balloon. Yet, the opportunity to be present within this landscape expanded and transformed my own ideas of the Caribbean forever. It provided a new framework with which to look at and contrast the Caribbean as a whole, and many miles away, particulars of my Puerto Rico.
After 23 daily consecutive routines of coffee (and cheese) breakfast, studio session, lunch, more studio, conversations over coffee, dinner and talks immersed in the constance of Aruba’s winds, San Juan’s wind became something else in my memory: intermittent; like that of a valve that opens and shuts with more or lesser force, sometimes releasing mosquitos, rain, dust from the Sahara, physical relief from a hot day, hurricane gusts or nothing at all, just sun and drought. This might seem an obvious observation, but for someone who has been obsessed with meteorology in general and its visuality for years, it was a beautiful feeling, a refreshing axis shift, a tilt, or maybe that hilarious jump of surprise provoked by the sudden burst of a balloon.
All this pondering about the past inspired an interest for the material culture of the present. Every day and night was an opportunity to bear witness of quotidian engagements with the invisible. I looked for objects that revealed the presence of the wind and found beautiful iterations of human ingenuity. From the ubiquitous laced cement blocks in architecture that facilitate crossed ventilation, kite construction and its competitive side, wooden frames attached to tables as to hold food baskets, stubborn crutches relieving a tree from its limp, to the deep sound of air resisting the push of an airplane landing and lifting.
It is hard to remember if the wind was blowing in one direction over the island all of the time. I do know that at Ateliers ’89, the winds brought by all of us continue and join us in every coordinate and degree that we take. As our unofficial group exhibition title revealed: The Winds Never Stop. I will always be thankful for that.