What does drowning in debt look like?
Esteemed photographer Adál Maldonado explores the depths of Puerto Rico’s financial crisis in “Puerto Ricans Underwater.” The series, featuring chilling images of Boricuas submerged in a tub full of water, promises to elicit conversation on the ties between colonialism and debt.
“I think mainly and most importantly, it’s the sense of denial of self-determination by having the federal government sort of impose their agenda on you. That feeling that you get from not being in control of your own life,” Maldonado told Remezcla of the deeper meaning behind his work. “That will manifest differently depending on different people…but I would say that’s pretty much it; not having a voice, feeling impotent inside of your own condition.”
Although the Nuyorican artist planned to curate roughly 20 photos, he garnered the attention of an estimated 85 people who wanted to participate when he unveiled his initial shots on Facebook. While hesitant to allow that number of strangers into his home at first (the shoot takes place in his bathroom), he ultimately embraced the organic progression of his series.
“Some people will give into the experience; se rinden, you know? Se ahogan out of their own free will. Other people fight and they resist all the way through the end,” he said. “I had another fella came in who said f**k it, I’m just going to have a good time, I don’t care about the political situation of this country, I don’t really give a sh*t, I’m just going to live my life and have a great time and party all the time. So depending on where you are, you’re going to respond differently to that situation.”
The final 100 images in Adál’s series are slated for a three-fold delivery at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Santurce, Old San Juan at the Museo del Arsenal and an undisclosed university setting in March 2017.