New York

Merián Soto and Pepón Osorio, Wish You Were Here

Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris

Wish You Were Here, a rambling performance spectacle about Puerto Rican popular culture by Merián Soto and Pepón Osorio, inhabited the lobby of the Philip Morris midtown headquarters the way the displaced Caribbean culture occupies New York City: like colorful scraps of confetti blowing around the edges of a glass-and-steel civilization. It was presented as an evening of “video, dance, music, and performance set in a Puerto Rican social club,” with a decor by set designer and sculptor Osorio consisting of balloon-festooned cabaret tables, cartoonish palm trees and cabanas made of patterned fabric, freestanding oversize umbrellas, and a blow-up of a touristy postcard. Through such “festive” means, the performance tried to establish a playful ambience, but it could not counteract the cold, harsh quality of the enormous space—the 42-foot-high ceilings, glaring bright lights, and long, boxlike

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