Since his emergence as an artist in the early 1970s, Puerto Rican visual artist Adál (Maldonado) has created photo-collages and foto-novelas influenced by the Post-Surrealist photographic movement of the early 1960s and 1970s. Most recently, his installations and multi-media performances have been inspired by the Nuyorican tradition (individuals of Puerto Rican parents born and raised in New York or Puerto Ricans who came to New York and embraced its hybrid condition). In 1994 Adál and Pedro Pietri founded El Puerto Rican Embassy, a concept already established by Ambassador Eduardo Figueroa, who founded El Spirit Republic de Puerto Rico in 1979. Adál and Pietri developed El Puerto Rican Embassy concept further by appointing Ambassadors of the Arts, writing a Manifesto and the Spanglish National Anthem, and creating its first Puerto Rican "passport".
A communiqué issued by El Puerto Rican Embassy in August 1996 explains the "passport's" function: "the passport is the official document which defines an individual's nationality, an important sign of identity which you need in order to travel outside of the country and in some cases within . . . Puerto Ricans, given our condition as North American citizens have been without a symbol which affirms our cultural identity. To this end, El Puerto Rican Passport was created."
Adál's "passports" evoke the use of passports as an artist medium by other artists, both Latino and non-Latino, in this century. They especially recall those produced in the recent past by the Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar and the Cuban-born Felix Gonzalez-Torres, but Adál's passports are distinguished from these works in that they are individualized for each "citizen" and issued in the context of performances. Their status as works of art that playfully disrupt officially sanctioned systems of identification and control also recalls the passports produced by artists associated with the anti-art tradition of Dada and Neo-Dada, including Fluxus impressario George Maciunas.
Fatima Bercht, Curator El Museo del Barrio 1996