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Arkive Acquires Electromagnetic Field by Allora & Calzadilla, Bringing Attention to Puerto Rico’s Energy Crisis

In Arkive’s latest acquisition round, ‘Under Control,’ the community chose between three works that recognize the island’s unstable power infrastructure with broader themes related to technology, ecology, and energy


SAN FRANCISCO (November 17, 2022) – Arkive, the world’s first decentralized physical museum, has announced its most recent acquisition: Electromagnetic Field (2022) by Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla. The painting was designed using a unique method of dropping iron filings on top of a canvas and then moving the canvas above an array of copper cables. Those cables were powered by an electrical breaker in the artists’ studio in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to create shapes and patterns using these electrical currents. The work’s full name, Electromagnetic Field: January 5, 2022 (Meter Number 96215234, Consumption Charge 425kWh x $0.04944, Consumption Charge for Additional 1,485kWh x $0.05564, Fuel Charge Adj 1,910kWh x $0.147356, Purchased Power Charge Adj 1,910kWh x $0.036202, Municipalities Adj 1,910kWh x $0.003235, Subsidies, Public Light & other Subv HH, 1,910kWh x $0.0010368, Subsidies, Public Light & other Subv NHH 1,910kWh x $0.000522, comes from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

The Electromagnetic Field paintings were first made in 2018, as Puerto Rico began to recover from Hurricane Maria. The artists wanted to reference a long history of abstract paintings made using chance as well as the uneven recovery of the island power grid in the aftermath of natural disasters. Electromagnetic Field is meant to draw attention to the way natural forces– electricity in this case– are parceled out and controlled by government authorities, and what that means for the people of Puerto Rico– wealth and power for some and vulnerability and dependence for others.

For more than 25 years, Allora and Calzadilla have been creating multimedia pieces across sculpture, performance, and painting that nod to themes of digital and ecological networks as well as ancient and future technologies. Their work often engages with local ecologies, economics, and histories of colonialism, extraction, and industrialization.

Two of Arkive’s recent acquisitions, one by Lynn Hershman Leeson and the other by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, explore the relationship humans have with technology, nature, and the intersection of the two. With the museum’s latest acquisition, they are revisiting those relationships while expanding the focus on environmental impact.

“We couldn’t be more proud to welcome this painting by Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla to our collection. Their work asks questions that can make us uncomfortable, inspired, angry, and curious, which is exactly what we look for in our acquisition rounds. The discourse among the Arkive community while deciding between three pieces by the same artists was both emotional and insightful,” said Tom McLeod, co-founder and Executive Director of Arkive.

[p"The artists created a piece that tells a clear story from beginning to end—leveraging real-life matters to showcase what happens during natural disasters and the controlled outcomes led by greed and inequality. The artwork is a depiction of the disparity between those in power and those who depend on them to make just decisions. Natural disasters are inevitable—but what follows, beyond the unavoidable, are controlled outcomes by those with power who fail to care for those they’re supposed to protect,” said a member of the Arkive community.[/p]

This acquisition joins six other artworks and cultural artifacts to expand Arkive’s ‘When Technology Was a Game Changer’ collection. The first cultural artifact introduced into Arkive’s collection was the patent for the world’s first computer, the ENIAC (1946). Next came Seduction (1985), a vintage photograph by Lynn Hershman Leeson, followed by the MTV Moonman prototype (1984) by Pat Gorman, which was then succeeded by Arkive’s first video work acquisition, Eulogy for a Black Mass by Aria Dean. Next in the collection was Madonna’s three cloth fans from her “Vogue” performance for the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards followed by Hormonium (2022) by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.

Arkive is taking applications for the first 1,000 members. As an alpha member, you will have curatorial power and access to IRL and digital experiences.

To apply to be an alpha member, visit

About Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla

Jennifer Allora, born in 1974, in Philadelphia, U.S.A. Guillermo Calzadilla, born in 1971, in La Havana, Cuba.

Since 1995, Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla have collaborated on an extensive body of work. Through a research-based approach, their practice traces the intersections of history, material culture, and politics through a wide range of mediums including sculpture, performance, sound, video, and photography. From a film in the perspective of a parrot (The Great Silence, 2021) to a boy’s choir singing operatic insults at each other over rock sculptures (Fault Lines, 2013) the duo examine the poetic and political ruptures of nationalism, humanism, and capital.

Their work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Pompidou Center, Paris, and the Tate Modern, London. In 2011, they represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. Their work has also been exhibited and collected widely in public institutions and private collections.

About Arkive

Arkive is the world’s first decentralized physical museum. Arkive’s brand-new model of how a museum can operate gives the people the power to curate and select what items are culturally significant rather than institutions. Built by alums from MoMA and Gagosian, Arkive was co-founded by Tom McLeod, a 5x founder who exited his last startup, Omni, to Coinbase, and prior to that, ran Pagelime (acquired by SurrealCMS in 2015), LolConnect (acquired by Tencent in 2012), and Imaginary Feet which developed 15+ profitable iPhone apps enjoyed by over 10 million users.

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