Allora & Calzadilla
The newly commissioned sculpture Unspecified Promise (2017) by artist duo Allora & Calzadilla is a contemporary interpretation of the granite monument that reflects on the political and technological issues of our time. Inspired by both a general sense of loss and hope that is personal to the artists, the work explores how the United States’ policies towards the Hispanic Caribbean Islands of Puerto Rico and Cuba have impacted the social, economic, and political realities in the region and for members of its diaspora, many of whom reside in Miami. The work’s more than thirty tons of black granite forms an incomplete symmetry with half of a construction loader. The mirror-like finish on the stone’s polished side reflects the missing half of the loader, creating the illusion of a whole. Continuing the artists’ sublime and surreal treatments of the massive machines that power our lives, industries, and militaries, the sculpture invokes a complex social matrix.
The machine pays homage to a construction loader owned by Calzadilla’s father, an engineer born and educated in Cuba, whose once-thriving construction business in Puerto Rico has come to a halt since the island’s economic recession in the mid 2000s. The artists treat it as a counter-monument to all the promises of a better future to that have impacted and entangled the lives of people in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Cuban and Puerto Rican Diasporas in the United States. Promises of independence, promises of incorporation, promises of social and economic reform, promises of revolution, promises of capitalism, promises of development, promises of aid, PROMESA: Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act.
Allora & Calzadilla are internationally recognized for their radical approach to form. Jennifer Allora (b. 1974, Philadelphia) and Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971, Havana) began their artistic collaboration in 1995 and have produced an expansive and interdisciplinary body of work involving sculpture, video, sound work, performance, and social interventions that focus on the regional concerns of their often site-specific installations. Their work has been featured in solo and group shows internationally, including Dia Art Foundation (2015); the Venice Biennale (2015, 2005); Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009); and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008). The artists represented the United States in the 2011 Venice Biennial.