Arts Watch: Carmelita Tropicana & PS 122 Head Uptown to El Museo Del Barrio

Carmelita Tropicana, aka Alina Troyano, has made me laugh, and think, for years. When I first heard the name back in the nineties I was imagining an over-the-top Carmen Miranda type character from an old Hollywood musical, complete with a tutti fruiti hat, colorful bangles, and a song in her heart. That is exactly what I got—in a ‘downtown’ kind of way. Instead of sambas and dance numbers, this wonderful character was spewing out colorful and extremely witty narratives in an irreverent, send-up style that tore apart any notions of the stereotypical Latina. In Tropicana’s world, humor and fantasy became subversive tools to rewrite history.

During the last twenty years, Tropicana’s performances and trademark bravado have taken her around the world. This week, as part of PS 122’s off-site season (their East Village home of over 30 years is undergoing a much-needed renovation) she heads uptown to El Museo del Barrio, where she brings her unique brand of whimsy and hilarity to Post Plastica, a collaboration with her sister, the award-winning writer/director Ela Troyano.

According to PS 122,part live performance, part video installation, Post Plastica offers a glimpse into a future in which celebrity culture has pitched a battle between the primacy of virtual and artistic lives.” I, for one, am looking forward to a Tropicana future!

Each evening will be begin at 6pm in El Museo’s El Cafe with complimentary pre-show talks featuring guest experts, curated by the artists. Performances begin at 7:30pm. May 31 – June 3; PS 122 @ EL Museo del Barrio; 104th Street and 5th Avenue; $20, $15 (students / seniors).