Carlos Reyes Derosia
Carlos ReyesDerosia
Carlos Reyes, saltwaterfarm, Waldo, 2020




Carlos Reyes’ bodies of work explore ephemeral phenomena—breath, wind, heat, light, time—as they are imprinted onto material sites and objects, his projects cataloging pregnant indices of human activity.


Among Reyes’ bodies of work: cedar panels from shuttered mens clubs, displaced and displayed as surrogates for the bodies whose private activities they contained; used jewelry store displays, bleached by sunlight save the shadows that index their former wares; spent treadmill belts, reformed into cylindrical structures but maintaining traces of their use. These objects describe changing social landscapes as sites of exchange and interaction become increasingly virtual.








PROMESA, 2021, begins with the real time monitoring of electrical power outages on the island of Puerto Rico. The sculpture uses data generated by LUMA Energy, Puerto Rico’s electrical utility company, on the number of “clients without service” as its initial input. These numbers are subjected to digital and electronic distortions and modifications that manifest as lighting in the gallery. All other existing lighting is extinguished so that the quality of light emitted from the seven lamps is the condition of visibility within the space.



Carlos Reyes, PROMESA, Soft Opening, 2021



In 2016, President Obama signed the bipartisan legislation PROMESA (The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act), assuring economic recovery from Puerto Rico’s debt crisis by ceding democratic control of its economy to a financial control board composed of US executive branch appointed officials. What was once the largest publicly owned utility in any part of the US was privatized by this board and fully replaced by LUMA Energy in 2021.










At a storage facility just off the highway in mid-coast Maine, a translucent monolith constructed from 5264 plastic egg cartons stands inside a Quonset hut—an industrial enclosure normally used to stockpile mounds of gravel, salt, or sand. But here, Carlos Reyes investigates a different kind of resource.


Inside the towering translucent structure, chicken eggs that have been hollowed, painted and chromed are suspended at regular intervals. Reyes has taken the residues of everyday American life—repetition, accumulation, constraint—and exposed them to fresh ocean air. Patent not pending, this flimsy architecture shimmers and sways, each cell reflecting and projecting light.





Exhausted treadmill belts, having reached the 30,000 mile mark, are now stretched into hollow cylinders, their interiors striated with past motion. Once on perpetual loop in New York City gyms, one is now suspended from the ceiling of a self-storage unit with a roll-up door.




West Side Club




West Side Club comprises reclaimed cedar planks from the sauna of the eponymous shuttered men's club, once billed as “premier social relaxation club for gay and bisexual men.” West Side Club is among the sites of queer socializing that have been replaced by virtual means of communication. Carlos Reyes installs the panels tall and narrow, like personages, to suggest containers of identity and history. The cedar is engraved with decades of graffiti, with mens' names and their far flung places of origin inscribed in wood that was softened by steam and collective sweat.





In 7269 (I) (2017) a shower drain sits atop a vessel of handblown glass, its rusting metal surface thrown into sharp relief against the slick transparency of the glass. The curvature of the glass indexes the artist’s sequence of breaths during the glassblowing process. The convex curves mark the outward push of an exhalation, while the concave dimples materializing the inward pull of a sharp inhalation. The work therefore points obliquely to a past action and absent body. These drains were sourced by the artist from the Melrose Spa in Hollywood, which was, until its recent closing, one of the last gay bathhouses in Los Angeles. While formally elegant, the vessels carry a sociopolitical history as well, poetically pointing to a queer sociality and questioning notions of cleanliness and contamination.




We give back credit




In We give back credit—which takes its title from a quote by artist Felix Gonzalez-­Torres regarding the inescapable synchronicity of time—loaves of bread are baked into the grates of industrial fans. These two elements find themselves locked in an unlikely embrace: the fan’s grate impedes the bread’s full rise, while the past heat and movement of the rising bread thwarts the future cooling potential of the fans, stripping them of any ability to circulate air. This give and take between form and function, between potentials lost and gained, is exemplary of Carlos Reyes’ practice.





Carlos Reyes (b. 1977, Chicago, IL) lives and works between New York and Puerto Rico. He has held solo and two-person exhibitions at Soft Opening, London (2021); Waldo, Searsport, ME (2020); Bodega (Derosia), New York (2018); Vie d’Ange, Montreal (2018); Galerie Joseph Tang, Paris (2017), among others. His work has been shown in group exhibitions at venues including Theta, New York (2022); P.P.O.W., New York (2021); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2020); Bodega (Derosia), New York (2020); Bradley Ertaskiran, Montreal (2020); Societé, Berlin (2018); The 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. Venice (2018), and more. His work is in the collection of Centre Pompidou, Paris.






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