Rogelio Báez Vega
(born Santurce, Puerto Rico 1974)
Lives and works in Santurce, Puerto Rico.
Within my artwork is an exploration concerning the constructed environment through painting and installation. The last decade my art practice has primarily focused on spatial habitats and architecture, addressing consistently the perception of landscape aesthetics versus the tangible experience of habitable spaces. This includes challenging the ahistorical ideology of Euro-American dominant culture and its colonial ghost, embedded into the foundations of urban landscapes in the Caribbean. In this recent series, I use the architectural legacy of the modern movement articulated in a futuristic scenario of bankruptcy and decay rooted in dystopian aesthetics but showing a re-vision of the history of colonization and its effects on a contemporary scene. History helps me to build that anachronistic imaginary of mythical scenes of desolate buildings, loaded with an abundant nature – sometimes designed as well – that shows in its entrails the human labor of a servile past and a present in complete failure. I am interested in transgressing these spaces or historically important buildings, associated with the structures of power in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. This is achieved by exploring the dynamics of settler colonialism and the erasure of Afro-Indigeneity as the true infrastructure of the Caribbean’s culture as a region.
Architecture from different colonial periods usually harbor and exemplify absolute political power. What is often unseen of these buildings and locations is the reality of native humans labor, the memory of slavery and colonialism encapsulated within the brick and mortar of not just architecture, but our readings of urban landscapes.
These contradictory associations, as a fictitious space of political and cultural power, contribute various absurd associations that allow me to develop an aesthetic framed and diluted between fiction and political failure. Therefore through my art practice, my intent is to point out false identities of my environment and its history that are superficially inconsistent.