The first major survey of present-day Puerto Rican artwork in virtually 50 % a century, “no existe un mundo poshuracán: Puerto Rican Artwork in the Wake of Hurricane Maria” at the Whitney is a seminal function in the record of the self-proclaimed museum of American art. Coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the class-four storm that strike Puerto Rico in 2017, the demonstrate provides collectively 20 artists who actively interrogate the tragedy and transformation recognized by Hurricane Maria. Altogether, the works foreground how the difficulties of land sustainability and social rupture that preceded the storm ended up brought to sharp relief by its catastrophic influence. The permanence of these continuing realities lends a sense of this means and urgency to the exhibition.

The title, which translates to “A write-up-hurricane entire world does not exist,” is borrowed from Puerto Rican poet Raquel Salas Rivera and frames the show’s central thoughts on the derailing effects of catastrophe: How can artists position them selves in relation to these kinds of a cataclysmic party? What does it suggest to move forward from catastrophe? And how can such a journey be represented? This is a presentation in which the island’s ecological and social climates are deliberately conflated.

Diagonally suspended from the ceiling, a picket lamppost salvaged from the storm particles opens the exhibition. It bears a sign embellished with the image of the American flag, encouraging persons to vote in favor of statehood for the contentious, nonbinding referendum held three months just before Hurricane Maria produced landfall. The do the job, Gabriella Torres-Ferrer’s Untitled (Valora tu mentira americana) (Untitled [Value Your American Lie]) (2018), shadows the storm’s collapse of the island’s by now susceptible and out-of-date electrical power grid. The disaster resulted in the longest blackout in U.S. record, lasting 11 months, and ruined a great deal of Puerto Rico’s distribution infrastructure.

With an upended pole serving as a metaphor for the island’s structural dependency and obsolescence exposed by the storm, the concept is easy but the biting irony is strong and multilayered. We are reminded of how the island’s marriage with the U.S. is nonetheless deeply contested and carries on to polarize Puerto Rico.

A central concept explored in the exhibition is foreign ideation and use of the island, as viewed in Sofía Gallisá Muriente’s online video collage B-Roll (2017). Here, industry recordings from the 2016 Puerto Rico Financial investment Summit enjoy more than advertising films featuring familiar tropes of idyllic Caribbean beaches and initially-charge resorts, parodying a funds paradise for foreigners. The underlying impact of tourism and foreign expense come into focus in Yiyo Tirado Rivera’s La Concha (2022), a sandcastle sculpture modeled after the iconic eponymous hotel in San Juan. The work’s gradual deterioration all over the run of the exhibition alludes to both the chance of building Puerto Rico’s economy all around foreign consumption and the island’s ongoing coastline erosion due to the international weather disaster.

Extensive themes like fractured infrastructure, mass exodus, and the destruction of the Caribbean ecology are also managed in the context of specific histories. In Armig Santos’s haunting canvases, a team of men have a picket cross together a seashore, referencing the religious procession held in honor of David Sanes in 1999 right after he was killed in a civilian casualty by two U.S. armed forces practice bombs. The paintings endeavor to seize a collective renewal—a specified regeneration or miraculous restoration of life—while fastened in sharp intimations of mortality and brutality.

In the meantime, Gabriella Báez’s “Ojalá nos encontremos en el mar (Ideally, We’ll Meet up with at Sea)” (2018–present) memorializes the artist’s late father, who died by suicide a several months soon after Hurricane Maria. A myriad of ephemera, from an old t-shirt to a household photo album, are reworked into personal gestures of remembrance. Palms and eyes in relatives photographs are stitched with each other by suspended strands of pink thread, a meditation on generational bonds that animates the photographic material with enormous personalized impact. It is a kind of artwork that works close to daily life, texturing the show’s broad and advanced ruminations on rupture with an intimate distillation of decline.

The exhibition culminates with Miguel Luciano’s Shields/Escudos (2020), protest shields built of sheet metal reclaimed from decommissioned faculty buses—a final result of the hundreds of general public universities in Puerto Rico shut by the Division of Instruction for economical causes. The get the job done is painted with black and white flags of Puerto Rico, a powerful signal broadly made use of by inhabitants of the U.S. territory for anti-colonial mourning and resistance.

If “no existe un mundo poshuracán” opens with an impression of the American flag hooked up to an item uncovered from organic disaster, the exhibition concludes with a far more actional concept than it started. The patriotic crimson and white stripes located in both equally the U.S. and Puerto Rico flags transform grayscale in Shields/Escudos, and are reconstituted into protective resources of self-assertion and defiance.

As a whole, the environment the clearly show conjures is a single of chance, not only for survival, but also for collective renewal and resilience. As the title maintains, there is no chance of returning to a time or actuality just before the hurricane. In this light-weight, this sort of an exhibition is extra important than ever.