C&AL: Your artistic practice is anchored in drawing, which implies concentrating on careful and attentive observation. Your project La llave / La clave (The Key) wants to do precisely that, namely pay attention to and decipher the multiple components of the world we call “salsa”. Can you tell us a little bit about how this project developed?
Tony Cruz Pabón: La llave / La clave (The Key) starts out as an investigation which tends to take plastic shape, since my point of departure is the gaze of the artist. It initially seems different from my drawings, but in reality, it is in dialogue with my other projects, such as the cloud drawings containing a music playlist.
Several years ago, I began collecting images of salsa album covers and their precursive musical genres, mainly from the 50s to the 80s. This impulse started as an aesthetic indulgence in which I began to see references to the art world. I then started showing them to friends and students – I was still a professor at the School of Fine Arts and Design of Puerto Rico at the time – and these informal presentations ended up shaping the content into that of a talk. Simultaneously to the analysis of the covers, I do the same with the music, and so this eclectic approach is the same for both the music and the images.
La llave / La clave has been expressed through various types of media such as talk, video, sculpture and different types of publications and, as you can see in the exhibition at the Puerto Rico Museum of Contemporary Art, they are all in dialogue with each other.
C&AL: That combination is quite explicit in the sculpture.
TCP: Yes, that piece of furniture is a collection of records which I have been acquiring little by little. And by way of publication I made record sleeves with a version of the topics of my research and the talk. This offers the audience a possibility to generate an analog and live playlist.