Kevin Quiles Bonilla | Indisposable: Tactics for Care and Mourning

Kevin Quiles Bonilla, Carryover (Blue Tarp in Vega Alta), 2019 C-print, 41 x 61 x 2 1/4 inches

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Bonilla writes that "My name is Kevin Quiles Bonilla, and my work featured in the exhibition INDISPOSABLE: Tactics for Care and Mourning is titled Carryover, parenthesis Blue tarp in Vega Alta, from 2019. It is a chromogenic print in a waxed wood frame. Its dimensions are forty-one inches high, sixty-one inches wide, and two and one quarter inches deep. The artwork depicts an individual standing on a green field in the town of Vega Alta, Puerto Rico. They are situated in the middle of the image at an angle and they are covered in a blue tarp, only exposing their right hand which has a multicolor bracelet, and their legs. They are wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and they’re barefoot. Around them are different kinds of vegetation, particularly three plantain trees of different sizes, closely surrounding the individual, which were planted in the location by my father. In the photographic series Carryover which began in 2018, I engage with a blue tarp, which became an iconographic symbol in a Puerto Rico post-hurricane María. These tarps were given by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to people who had significant damage on their homes following the hurricane. What meant to be a short lived solution became a long term reality, which revealed the inadequate treatment of the islanders by the government after a catalyst natural disaster. This year marks the 5th anniversary of hurricane Maria passing through Puerto Rico, and the repercussions, as well the blue tarps, still mingle on the island and beyond."
Kevin Quiles Bonilla, “Carryover (Blue Tarp in Vega Alta)”, 2019, C-print, 41 x 61 x 2 1/4 inches

Kevin Quiles Bonilla (b. 1992) (he/they) is an interdisciplinary artist born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. They explore ideas around power, colonialism, and history with their identity as context.

In Carryover (Blue Tarp in Vega Alta), the body of the queer-crip artist merges with and is abstracted by the detritus left behind in the wake of Hurricane Maria, a blue plastic tarp. What, Bonilla asks us, are we doing with the piles of ruins left in Puerto Rico – and elsewhere – in the wake of the disasters caused by climate change? How does the lack of substantial response to the climate crises pile danger upon danger, indignity upon indignity, further carrying over colonial oppression onto the bodies of those in the storm’s path? The blue tarp itself becomes a signifier of loss and disposability after a disaster, serving as flimsy coverings to patch the holes in houses. As Bonilla notes, these blue tarps still dot the island today. Bonilla stands out of and in nature where the stiff folds of the blue tarp over their head and body create a sculptural structure that reappropriates the detritus of disaster that was intended for disposability and remakes it into an almost grand form. However, as Bonilla’s limp posture emphasizes, this grandeur is imbued with a grief for those lives and livelihoods lost to climate crises. Bonilla takes the possibilities of the blue tarp one step further, asking us “What happens when the body replaces the structure? – or rather, what happens when the body becomes the structure to protect?”

Instagram: @kevinquilesbonilla