Monday, May 19, 2008

Free Registry

MediaNoche presents Diógenes Ballester's

Free Registry: Encounter, Mythology and Reality, an online preamble to his exhibition of the same title at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Visitors to this new media gallery in NYC's El Barrio will be able to see a projection of the Slave Registry of the Village of Ponce in Puerto Rico, a 19th Century text cataloguing African men, women and children as property to be sold on the auction block. The registry lists some of the ancestors of Puerto Ricans (white and black) by name and provides an eery entrance into a world that legitimized the sale of human beings.

The exhibition in El Barrio runs until June 19. The artist talk is planned for Wednesday, June 18, 6 p.m. Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Friday, 3 – 7 p.m., and by appointment.

As a counterpoint to the Slave Registry, the artist has created the Free Registry, allowing visitors to share in the historical process. According to Ballester, "We experience the slave trade as a specific, local event in our country's history, but it is and has always been a global phenomenon, affecting many people in different parts of the world."

Visitors to MediaNoche gallery can browse through the pages of the Slave Registry and comment in the Free Registry online at and

Here's what one visitor to the free registry wrote about Ballester's exhibit:

"This exhibition is both powerful and hurtful reminding us of the inhumanity that enslavement has had in our history. It provides a historical context for understanding the continued destructive legacy of racism, discrimination and injustice. This important exhibition that connects us internationally allows us to examine how going forward we must actively work against injustice, racism and discrimination. Thank you Diogenes, Judy and Medianoche for helping us understand our history and define our future work." -- Marta Moreno Vega, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, NYC

Meanwhile, from June 5 – Sept. 7, el Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in Santurce presents:

Free Registry: Encounter, Mythology and Reality, an exhibition that challenges the visitor to rethink the official story. Through traditional and new media, Ballester interprets aspects of the African Diaspora in Puerto Rico. Encaustic drawings and paintings, sculptures and multimedia installations engage the visitor in an historical dialectic of personal discovery.


DIÓGENES BALLESTER is a visual artist working in different media. His work explores oral history, memory, mythology, ritual, and cultural identity along a transnational spectrum. Ballester has exhibited in the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2006, he presented two concurrent exhibitions at the National Museum of Catholic Art and History in New York City and the Museum of the History of Ponce in Puerto Rico. Cultural objects and historical artifacts from Ponce and Spanish Harlem were appropriated and reframed in the museums and together with painting, drawing and new media provided a way of accessing the past and re-interpreting the present in a transcaribbean dialogue.

For more information, call MediaNoche at 212.828.0401 or visit
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