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Pepón Osorio

2013
Author:

Jennifer González

Pepón Osorio

Explores the award-winning Puerto Rican artist whose work challenges common myths of society and human relationships

Pepón Osorio is an internationally recognized artist whose richly detailed installations challenge the stereotypes and misconceptions that shape our view of social institutions and human relationships. In this book, Jennifer A. González shows that although Osorio draws on his Puerto Rican background and the immigrant experience for inspiration, his artistic statements bridge geographical barriers and class divides.

Narratively powerful (aligned with a history of visual arts storytellers like Adrian Piper and Edward Kienholz), visually compelling, and ethically just, Pepón Osorio stands as a transitional figure bridging museum installation and field-based social practices. He is, in fact, one of the first American figures in this field to focus a deeply implicated, and sympathetic, eye on the lives of the so-called others—the immigrants, the violated, and the working class—in ways that are comprehensible to people from all walks of life. I admire his work intensely, and I can think of no one better equipped to tell his story than Jennifer González.

Suzanne Lacy, Chair, MFA Public Practice at Otis College of Art and Design

Pepón Osorio is an internationally recognized artist whose richly detailed installations challenge the stereotypes and misconceptions that shape our view of social institutions and human relationships. Osorio’s colorful, often riotous installations are constructed from found objects and things that he customizes or creates. With a wry sense of humor, he probes sober topics, including prison life, domestic violence, AIDS, and poverty.

Osorio’s collaborative site-based works develop from his immersion into a community—residents of urban ethnic neighborhoods, employees who provide social services, children in foster care—and the discussions that result. As he addresses difficult themes such as race and gender, death and survival, and alienation and belonging, Osorio asks his audience to reconsider their assumptions and biases. In this book, Jennifer A. González shows that although Osorio draws on his Puerto Rican background and the immigrant experience for inspiration, his artistic statements bridge geographical barriers and class divides.

Osorio’s installations have been exhibited internationally, and his work is represented at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in San Juan, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and other major museums. He has received numerous awards, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1999.

Awards

2014 International Latino Book Awards - 2nd Place, Best Arts Book

2014 International Latino Book Awards - Honorable Mention, Best Latino-Focused Book/Nonfiction (English)

Pepón Osorio

Jennifer A. González teaches in the Department of History of Art and Visual Culture at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York. She has written for numerous periodicals including Aztlán, Frieze, Bomb, Camera Obscura, and Art Journal. Her book Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art was a finalist for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award.

Chon A. Noriega is professor of film, television, and digital media and director of the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA.

Pepón Osorio

Narratively powerful (aligned with a history of visual arts storytellers like Adrian Piper and Edward Kienholz), visually compelling, and ethically just, Pepón Osorio stands as a transitional figure bridging museum installation and field-based social practices. He is, in fact, one of the first American figures in this field to focus a deeply implicated, and sympathetic, eye on the lives of the so-called others—the immigrants, the violated, and the working class—in ways that are comprehensible to people from all walks of life. I admire his work intensely, and I can think of no one better equipped to tell his story than Jennifer González.

Suzanne Lacy, Chair, MFA Public Practice at Otis College of Art and Design

In Pepón Osorio author Jennifer González seamlessly weaves together the artist’s biography with his interventions in the fields of performance, installation, and public art. More than a monograph on a leading artist, this book reveals a sustained, collaborative practice that joins art and politics, museum and casita. Here Osorio’s work excavates and destabilizes the sedimented layers of New York City as a global art center: its Caribbean communities become central, Latino cultures cut in and out of African American traditions, the South Bronx repurposes Hollywood’s melodramas, and the barbershop substitutes for the university as the place to debate sexuality and gender roles.

Esther Gabara, author of Errant Modernism: The Ethos of Photography in Mexico and Brazil

Pepón Osorio provides an in-depth study of one of the leading installation artists working in the United States. Based in meaningful community collaboration, Osorio's installations employ ubiquitous material culture to explore how communities and individuals negotiate the legacy of colonialism and continued marginalization. The conceptual depth of his work finds its match in Jennifer González, who teases out the many layers of Osorio’s practice from his earliest stage-prop sculptures. Thoughtful and revealing, Pepón Osorio is a must read for scholars interested Latino, Puerto Rican, and installation art.

E. Carmen Ramos, Curator for Latino Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum