Based in San Juan and trained in dance and improvisation, nibia develops site-specific “choreographic events” to experiment with time, fiction and notions of territory. Her work has been supported by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña and the Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades. She is co-editor, along with dance scholar Susan Homar, of the upcoming book Habitar lo imposible: Danza y experimentación en Puerto Rico published by Editorial Beta-Local in Spring 2023. Currently, nibia is co-director at Beta-Local, a non-profit organization dedicated to support artists in Puerto Rico. From 2017 to 2021, nibia also served as the Dance Program Academic Coordinator at Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, the first of its kind in Puerto Rico. During the 2019 Whitney Biennial, nibia presented her durational performance: indisposed objects, suspended inaugurations or inevitable endings for an almost dance. In 2020, de Appel (Amsterdam) commissioned her most recent video work: some, some efforts, some conceivable efforts. Her work is part of the two artist exhibition: Choreopolitics: Brendan Fernandes & nibia pastrana santiago at MASS MoCa. nibia holds an MFA in Dance with a Minor in Latina/o Studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a Postmasters in Performance and Scenography Studies from a.pass, Belgium. She has performed and collaborated in works by Miguel Gutiérrez, DD Dorvillier, and Jennifer Monson’s /iLAND. nibia is a 2020-2022 fellow of the Puerto Rican Arts Initiative, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Northwestern University and University of Texas, Austin.
“YOUR ISLAND HERE” (2019) is an original twenty-foot-long banner designed to float horizontally over the water along the coast of Captiva Island in the Gulf of Mexico to be viewed from the air. The banner displays the phrase “your island here,” where the Y in “you” is obscured by the letter X, marking a place, that of the people. “YOU” becomes “OUR” for the plural, para y de la gente (for and of the people). Often, islands are prone to outsider real estate speculation. When properties are for sale, it is common usage language that addresses the buyer in the second person; for instance, “your dream beach house.” The video is a documentation of the choreographic event performed by colleagues at the Rauschenberg Residency, carrying the banner through the water, creating a dialogue with ideas about tropical pessimism and the privatization of the coasts. This work was conceived both as an anti-tourist, anti-investor advertisement, and as a reminder of rising sea levels due to climate change “our island here” is part of the series not accidentally given: pesimismo tropical (2019).
During [her] stay at the Rauschenberg residence on Captiva Island, Florida, [nivia pastrana santiago] experimented with language and waterproof paper. [She] also reflected on ideas of tropical pessimism, coastal privatization, activism, and archipelagic relationships. [She] designed a 20-foot by 4-foot floating banner intended to be seen from the air. On one of the last days at the residence, with other residents, a walk in the water of the Gulf of Mexico was organized to activate the banner. This choreographed event was fueled by ideas about future submarines, changes in sea level rise, and a desire to advertise anti-tourism.
nibia pastrana santiago is also the initiator of El Weather Bureau, a temporary choreographic circuit. It began in 2017 as a research practice on the shores of Puerta de Tierra, San Juan. In 2021, EWB received a grant from the Puerto Rican Arts Initiative and reinitiated new collaborations. There have been three iterations of EWB: choreography, improvisation and durative. The different collaborators of the project are Awilda Rodriguez Lora, Jesus "Pito" Miranda, Coqueta Daniel, Marisa Gomez and Hidrante.
El Weather Bureau, in collaboration with Marisa Gómez Cuevas, creates The Fake Tourists. The two performers, Nibia and Marisa, pretend to be tourists who want to buy property in Puerto Rico as part of Act 20-22, the current rampage on Puerto Rico's tax incentives.
YOUR ISLAND HERE
Special thanks to: Ann Brady, Leila Mesdaghi, Eve Abrams, Guillermo Rodríguez, Andrew Beck, Carrell Courtright, Matt Hall, Joshua Coe and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Drone and video operator: Jarrod Dugger
Video editing: nibia pastrana santiago
THE FAKE TOURISTS
This work was made possible by the Mellon Foundation, Northwestern University and the University of Texas Austin through the Puerto Rican Arts Initiative (PRAI).
Video editing: Juan C. Malavé