On Tuesday, December 5, the winners of this year’s $30,000 Visible Award were announced at the Queens Museum in New York. The institution hosted the fourth iteration of the roving prize, which recognizes artists who create socially engaged art. The year 2017 marks the first time that the prize was presented in the United States. Puerto Rican artists Luis Agosto-Leduc and Jesús “Bubu” Negrón received the honor for the collaborative work produced by their collective Brigada Puerta De Tierra, which uses art as a tool to challenge standard urban development practices.
The artists’ work exhibits “the potential of a community when it becomes a political constituency and strives against new and old colonizing subjects,” said Judith Wielander and Matteo Lucchetti, codirectors of the Visible project, the arts research platform that established the award.
Brigada Puerta De Tierra, founded in 2015, celebrates Puerto Rico’s Old San Juan neighborhood by bringing the community together to preserve its history. Through a community-outreach campaign that championed the slogan “Aquí Vive Gente,” Ledu and Negrón raised awareness about the role that youth empowerment can play in sustainable and community-centered development. The artists also helped the Puerta De Tierra neighborhood negotiate with the San Juan municipality to buy two uninhabited buildings, which will be turned into community centers.
Sponsored by Italy’s Cittadellarte–Fondazione Pistoletto and the Zegna Foundation, the award was previously hosted by the Liverpool Biennial in 2016 and the Van Abbe Museum in the Netherlands in 2015.