José A. Alvarado Jr.

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Location: New York
Nationality: Puerto Rican American
Biography: A New York native, José A. Alvarado Jr. (b. 1989) is a Puerto Rican documentary photographer working on long-form visual narratives. He is currently based in New York City. His work has been published by: The New York Times, VICE, The... read on
Public Story
La Isla Del Encanto; Borikén
Credits: josé a. alvarado jr.
Date of Work: 12/04/17 - 07/27/18
Updated: 01/10/19

La Isla Del Encanto; Borikén
La Isla Del Encanto; Borikén, documents the physical damage to areas in my family’s villages, in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria. These places hold the memories of my youth and areas of countryside I explored. In early December 2017, late February 2018, and late July 2018 I traveled to Puerto Rico to check in on my family, help with any repairs, and to see with my own eyes the way life has changed and has continued pushing forward. Over time I’ve developed a ritual of revisiting the areas and paths that are significant to me. The frames taken are remnants of memories that are etched in my mind that have physically disappeared on the island and moments shared in the company of loved ones the storm could not destroy. With the aid of the photographic medium as a tool, I’ve helped myself put to rest these physical landmarks my family made on the island. I’ve chosen to compose the scenes of destruction in angles most vividly remembered by myself. By capturing the identity of quiet landscapes, toppled homes, crippled forests, and plowed towns, that have seen its unique identity physically stripped away, is my way of coping. My memories on the island and stories I would hear about the way life was on the island will always stay with me, but my ability to retrace the paths I’d explored are forever lost, leaving me with frames of my heritage the storm couldn’t take away.

First published by the NY Times Lens on September 19, 2018.

Also by José A. Alvarado Jr. —

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