This article first appeared on VICE US
Puerto Rico is populated by a people long tested by adversities, both natural and man-made. Strained by financial woes, population exodus, widespread addiction (predatory gambling, alcohol, opioids), and two natural disasters, the island is entering a pivotal time. Because lives are rebuilt with more than just brick and mortar, the rebuilding of Puerto Rico will most certainly affect its people everywhere on a cultural level, but how and to what extent?
Ruben Natal-San Miguel, a former resident with family still living on the island, made these photographs from December 9 to 26, 2017. He wanted to investigate, document, and make an assessment of Puerto Rico's conditions after the disaster of Hurricane Maria. Because of his personal connection to the island, he wanted to focus especially on capturing the island's resilience. These photographs capture the contrast of the colorful beauty of the island's houses with the destruction still present across the territory. Natal-San Miguel plans to go back to track the ongoing recovery through photos until August, 2018.
Natal-San Miguel is an architect, self-taught photographer, curator, writer, art collector, and consultant specializing in the art of fine emerging photography. His stature in the photo world has earned him awards, features in major media, countless exhibitions and collaborations with photo icons such as Magnum Photographer Susan Meiselas. His photographs are in the permanent collection of El Museo Del Barrio in NYC. You can follow his work here.