Mónica Félix: Estelio
Estelio features seven videos by Puerto Rican artist Mónica Félix (b. 1984). Translated into English, estelio is “stellium,” an astrological phenomenon in which three or more planets align under a single zodiac sign. In this virtual exhibition, the artist’s rich videography comes together for the first time, each individual work a star within a larger constellation. Throughout, Félix explores the entwined histories of femininity, migration, and colonialism—creatively navigating what she calls “los rincones comprometidos de esta vida viajera,” (“the compromised corners of this traveled life”).
The exhibition format is oriented by Estelio (Stellium), 2023, a sculptural reimagination—incorporating elements from the ocean, an important point of reference for Félix—of the artist’s own astrological birth chart, which links the seven videos assembled here, made between 2014 and 2023. These delicate marine objects, found materials from the coasts inhabited by the artist, highlight the current ecological crisis and, linking sea to sky, the fragile ecosystems that keep us alive. Salá (Salted), 2023, explores the linguistic complexity and different connotations of the word “sal.” Alláfuera (or otherwise the United States), 2021, visualizes the diasporic experience by rewriting Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 story “The Little Mermaid.” Aves de rapiña (Vultures), 2022, confronts how Wall Street prioritizes profit over lives and benefits from the political and economic exploitation of Puerto Rico.
Romance Tropical (Raquel and Ernestina), 2016, and Romance Tropical (RGB), 2020, both result from Félix’s engagement with archival materials related to a 1934 film of the same title, the second Spanish-language talkie globally and the first Puerto Rican film with synchronized sound. Together they demonstrate her capacity for deconstructing stories and creating new ones with what she calls “half-truths.” Querida (The Classic Aerobic Woman Part II), 2014, contrasts traditional, carefully prescribed dancing instructions with the irregular and organic movements of contemporary women dancing at a club. A two-channel video, Vaivén (Sway), 2019, shows Félix metaphorically pacing between two spaces, New York City and Puerto Rico, during the distressing period in which Hurricane María ravaged the latter region in 2017.
While Estelio engages painful histories, it also highlights how the artist’s work manifests feminist and anticolonial imaginings, in her words: