Paper given 1 August 2021 at Mythcon 51 Session 10
ADÁL’s Blueprints for a Nation is an art installation that displays artifacts from the conceptual nation of El Spirit Republic de Puerto Rico. This imaginal nation expresses the unique social and linguistic experience of Puerto Ricans living off the island, and its principle tool is speculative worldbuilding. This essay examines two of the speculative roots of Blueprints for a Nation. First, the essay explores “El Mapagraph,” the fictional map of the nation that is in the shape of a domino and that alludes to the common practice of mapping utopias and fantasy worlds. The work also makes clear by its location as “west of Eden” that it is not only working against perfect utopianism, but also the perception of the U.S. that Puerto Rico is primarily significant as a natural resource, a paradise vacation spot, for citizens on the mainland. Second, this essay examines the photos series Out of Focus Nuyoricans that is part of the installation and that has its roots in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. This series demonstrates how this conceptual nation becomes more than a thought experiment. ADÁL specifically developed the photo series along with his Puerto Rican passport project which was implemented though live-performances. The passport has also at times functioned as an actual passport throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. The essay ends with an articulation of the ways that speculative worldbuilding can be combined with political and aesthetic purposes to create a unique realfantasy world.