This is a mock-up for preview purposes only. The video installation consists of two separate projections and an independent audio loop, accompanied by a newsprint publication.
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In 1955, Paramount News, “the eyes and ears of the world”, projected in movie theaters around the United States images of a plane landing in Puerto Rico carrying 2 tons of snow and a family from New Hampshire, and of the thousands of young people that received them in a baseball field. These 40 seconds of film are possibly the only surviving audiovisual document of an event that persists as a foggy memory in the conscience of most Puerto Ricans.
Lluvia con nieve (Rain with Snow) is a double projection that tries to make visible the ideological production processes behind these images; zooming in, stretching out and manipulating the last cinematic vestige of this moment. Through editing, intentions are subverted and new meanings are uncovered which were repressed in the construction process that trivialized this event to turn it into easily digestible information.
On one side we witness the arrival of the snow in a ritual designed for the occasion, accompanied by ox carts, Sevillian dancers and the so-called Prince of the Tropics and Princess of the Snow. On the other side, the mutinous crowd desperately enjoys the few minutes that the snow lasted to loose themselves in the euphoria and throw themselves over each other in a violent dance. In the background, we hear a mambo by Mon Rivera, which was the inspiration for the title. The playback slows down progressively and the distortion is amplified in each repetition, as if evoking the mud that resulted from saturating the soil with melted ice.
The so-called battles of the snow happened on four occasions between 1952 and 1955; the first one was waged less than three weeks after the referendum that approved the Free Associated State constitution, the last one only months after the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party-led attack on the US Congress. The event was orchestrated by the mayor of San Juan, Felisa Rincón de Gautier, together with Eastern Airlines, on the opportune occasion of a Christmas festival.
The piece is a formal experiment that seeks to penetrate the archive in order to decipher it. The aesthetic practice transforms the film into an anthropological document and derives new knowledge from it, allowing us the opportunity to observe an iconic moment of forced reconciliation between symbols and ideas about our national identity through a political spectacle. The confrontation with these images is like an apparition, in which each frame confirms the occurrence and expands its implications.