Yiyo Tirado, Caribe hostil, 2020.

Caribe hostil (Yiyo Tirado).


At Americas Society—Tropical is Political: Caribbean Art Under the Visitor Economy Regime

The group exhibition, held in collaboration with Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, runs from September 7 through December 17, 2022.

August 9, 2022—Americas Society presents Tropical is Political: Caribbean Art Under the Visitor Economy Regime, an exhibition that explores the themes of natural and fiscal paradise, examining their geographical coincidence in the Caribbean and the impact of tourism and the “visitor economy” on the art and cultural production from the region. The term "visitor economy" denotes the ways in which a society is transformed by the economic activity—services and goods consumed—of visitors, wherein the economy is reconfigured to serve the visitor.

Curated by Marina Reyes Franco, Tropical is Political will display works by nineteen contemporary artists working within the Caribbean sphere and its diasporas, including Gwladys Gambie, Allora & Calzadilla, Carolina Caycedo, Sofía Gallisá Muriente, Abigail Hadeed, Joiri Minaya, José Morbán, Dave Smith, Yiyo Tirado, and Oneika Russell, among others. The presentation, done in collaboration with Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, will feature several new and site-specific artworks and installations. It will be on view from September 7 through December 17, 2022.

In contemporary times, Caribbean economies have transitioned from monocultures (particularly dedicated to sugarcane) exporting to North America and Europe to the receivers of visitors from the wealthiest countries, attracted by postcards of pristine beaches and the promises of a tax haven. “This exhibition approaches the Caribbean as a region subject to a particular set of structural circumstances—a product of the visitor economy regime,” said Curator Marina Reyes Franco. “Centered around three main focal points—the body, territory, and finance—the selection of works in this exhibition delves into the effects of tourism on Caribbean artists and their cultural production, and how the neocolonial relationship embodied by the tourism industry affects how Caribbean cultures are represented for visitors.”

Across video, painting, installation and photography, the artists in Tropical is Political problematize and interrogate definitions of tropicality. As evident in the title of the exhibition, these works disrupt the façade of the tropical as a paradise and instead show the political, cultural, and economic machinations which create those fantasies. Together, the artworks create a varied and multifaceted picture of how the visitor economy manifests across the Caribbean region.

Following the presentation of the exhibition in New York City at Americas Society, the show will travel to the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico in San Juan in early 2023.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the publication of a pocketbook featuring images of all artworks, as well as curatorial texts. Americas Society will host a series of public programs, both in-person and virtual, accompanying the show, including panel discussions with the curatorial team and scholars of Caribbean art and sculpture, public conversations with the artists in the exhibition, and regular free gallery tours.

Funders and Sponsors

Major support for Tropical is Political: Caribbean Art Under the Visitor Economy Regime at Americas Society is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. This exhibition is also supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts; by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; by Etant donnés Contemporary Art, a program from Villa Albertine and FACE Foundation, in partnership with the French Embassy in the United States, with support from the French Ministry of Culture, Institut Français, Ford Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, CHANEL, and ADAGP; and by the Smart Family Foundation of New York.

Americas Society acknowledges the generous support from the Arts of the Americas Circle contributors: Estrellita B. Brodsky, Virginia Cowles Schroth, Emily A. Engel, Diana Fane, Galeria Almeida e Dale, Isabella Hutchinson, Carolina Jannicelli, Vivian Pfeiffer, Phillips, Gabriela Pérez Rocchietti, Erica Roberts, Sharon Schultz, Diana López and Herman Sifontes, and Edward J. Sullivan.

About the Curator

Marina Reyes Franco (b. 1984) is a curator at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC) de Puerto Rico in San Juan. She studied art history in Puerto Rico and Argentina, where she also co-founded and directed La Ene, a museum in Buenos Aires. She has investigated the work of Esteban Valdés, artistic and literary manifestations on the frontier of political action, the art of the Caribbean, and the impact of tourism on cultural production. At the MAC, she has developed the group exhibition El momento del yagrumo (2021), the public art commission De Loíza a la Loíza by Daniel Lind Ramos (2019–2020), and solo projects by Tony Cruz Pabón and Amara Abdal Figueroa (2021). Other projects include: Watch your step / Mind your head, ifa-Galerie Berlin (2017); The 2nd Grand Tropical Biennial in Loíza, PR (2016); C32: Sucursal, MALBA in Buenos Aires (2014), and numerous exhibitions at La Ene.