Dan Flavin Estate Is Not Happy His Light Piece Will be Installed Inside a Cave

Photo: Myritza Castilló © Allora & Calzadilla

This fall, artist duo Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, known as Allora & Calzadilla, plan to unveil a controversial new work in Puerto Rico.

On September 23 the San Juan-based artists, who represented the US at the 2011 Venice Biennale, plan to install a Dan Flavin light artwork, Puerto Rican Light (to Jeanie Blake) (1965), deep inside a limestone cave located between Guayanilla and Peñuelas, according to the Art Newspaper. The new installation is titled, “Puerto Rican Light (Cueva Vientos).” 

The piece was commissioned by Dia Art Foundation in New York and Para La Naturaleza, the non-profit component of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico. Last year, the New York Times reported that Flavin’s estate, overseen by his son Stephen, had not given its permission to use the work. A spokesman for the Dia Foundation confirmed this sentiment to the Art Newspaper, saying, “Dia has a difference of opinion with the Flavin estate [regarding the new commission].”

The light piece was named after Jeanie Blake, a Green Gallery employee who met Flavin in New York in the ’60s and commented that “bright festive colors remind her of Puerto Rican lights,” according to Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights. The artist worked with pink, yellow, and red fluorescent light bulbs for the piece, which will be powered by solar panels at the mouth of the cave. Yasmin Ramirez, a research associate at the Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos at Hunter College in New York, writes in a catalogue, “Its tutti-frutti hues radiate tropicalism.”

Calzadilla described the work as a “a dense interweaving of inter-generational art-historical exchange and post-colonial geographical dislocation.” He added, “The work’s methodology of inversion, dependency, power, and distancing will certainly reverberate with the history of uneven exchanges between the United States and Puerto Rico.”

The piece will be open to the public until September 23, 2017.

Dan Flavin, Puerto Rican Light (to Jeanie Blake) (1965)  Via: artnet Price Database

Dan Flavin, Puerto Rican Light (to Jeanie Blake) (1965).
Photo: Courtesy artnet Price Database.

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