Papo Colo is a Puerto Rican performance artist known for his 1977 work Superman 51, and as a co-founder of Exit Art.
MoMA PS1 supports Colo’s latest performance Procesión-Migración with the Puertos Ricos Festival Jan 6-8, 2017.
About Papo Colo
Papo Colo was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He came to New York in the 1970s. He co-founded and ran Exit Art, an alternative cultural center, from 1982-2012.
Puertos Ricos: A Festival of Arts and Natures
The festival at MoMA PS1 coincides with the start of Colo’s latest performance piece Procesión-Migración.
In Procesión-Migración Colo returns to Puerto Rico. He will lead a large-scale procession through El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest in the US national park system, concluding with the artist’s disappearance into the forest for a year. The two-hour procession will feature 10 actors, 8 musicians, and a number of animals, with performances at five intervals along the route. The procession will culminate at Papo Colo’s foundation along the banks of the Río Espíritu Santo, where Colo will perform a ritual cleansing.
The performance is inspired by Puerto Rican author René Marqués’ La Carreta (1953). In that story, a rural Puerto Rican family moves to the capital, San Juan, in search of a better life. When that fails, they move to New York City. When that fails, the return to rural Puerto Rico.
If you are Puerto Rican, the feelings generated by this performance probably hit you in the gut. There are a lot of identity issues here that speak directly to the New York Puerto Rican experience.
Even if you are not Puerto Rican, the eternal and very contemporary challenges of migration and integration make the ideas floated by this performance relevant to all of us.
Migration and successful integration is not a problem. However, there are huge problems, and even bigger fears, associated with migration and unsuccessful integration.
Today people don’t usually leave their homelands just because they want a bigger television. Whether it is Puerto Rico, Syria, Iraq, or Central America, migrants generally face the choice to leave or die.
Upon arrival there are huge challenges for both natives and newcomers. Both seek a return to the comfort of a familiar place. But time does not move backwards. There is no going home. You can’t expect people to just disappear into the forest.
Image: Papo Colo preparing for the Procesión-Migración performance is courtesy of MoMA PS1