Current Project


María P. Vila
Presented in collaboration with First Street Green Art Park for LES History Month

On View: Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14, 2017; 10a – 6p
Location: First Street Green Art Park, 33 E. 1st St.

Artists Alliance Inc. and First Street Green Art Park are pleased to co-present Secreto in honor of LES History Month. Secreto is a collaborative installation by Chilean artist María P. Vila that seeks to engage communities around the world through collecting and sharing secrets. Based on the premise that secrets can generate shadowy places in our unconscious mind, Vila invites people to receive the secrets of others and release their own – individuals who read a secret must also leave one, creating a harmonious and reciprocal relationship. Through this means, a web of confidential information will be woven and revealed in a spontaneous way, which will in return prompt a reflection about our memories.

The mission of Secreto is to discover the secrets of people from different backgrounds and cultures in order to analyze the phenomenon of the secret using social, geographic, cultural, and idiosyncratic principles. Secrets themselves are strong indicators of the values held within a culture and community, and often what we do not say is as important as what we do say. This project will give a voice to the untold stories of the people of the Lower East Side, creating a different kind of collective history.  

At the end of the installation’s year-long travel around the world, Vila will compile the collection of secrets into a book, providing a thought-provoking visual record of Secreto. The book will include an essay about the principles of the secret, a selection of collected secrets, images of the installation, a graphologist’s reading of the chosen secrets, and a sociological and psychological essay about the work itself.

The installation is made up of all of the secrets that have already been written. Secreto has previously traveled to Valparaíso, Chile; Barcelona, Spain; Feria Ch.ACO, Chile; Frutillar, Chile; the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Chile; and 67 Ludlow, NYC. After its Lower East Side installation, Secreto will continue on to Navarra, Rome, Hamburg, Lisbon, London, Albania, Berlin and Shanghai, with a goal of collecting a minimum of 3,000 secrets.    

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About Lower East Side History Month

Lower East Side History Month (LES History Month) celebrates the rich, diverse history of New York City’s Lower East Side. Each May, Lower East Side cultural and community groups, small businesses, and residents organize cultural and community events, which range from exhibitions to walking tours to public art to festivals.

Co-founded and coordinated by FABnyc and Downtown Art, LES History Month explores the neighborhood’s past and present, and how our history can inform and inspire our future. All events take place within the historical definition of the Lower East Side which includes the East Village, Chinatown, Two Bridges, and Loisaida.

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Maria Luisa Portuondo Vila is a visual artist and stage director. She studied theater arts at Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago, Chile (2001-2005), and earned an MA degree in art, specializing in theater direction at Universidad de Chile (2008-2011). In 2011, due to her urge to draw nearer to audiences, she began her exploratory journey within the realm of installation art and developed the series Cosas que me gusta hacer porque sí (Santiago, Chile). Maria Luisa’s work explores the occupation of non-conventional spaces as well as direct links and encounters with spectators. This stems from her proposal of viewing art as a Situation that occurs at the crossroads of the artistic work, the artist and the perceiver. Maria Luisa has exhibited much of her work in urban spaces and/or those that are not meant for art exhibitions. This is the artistic principle that stands out as one of the highlights of her work. Since 2006, her work has been exhibited in the Montecarmelo Church (Santiago), the General Cemetery (Santiago), the Racamalac Bridge (Santiago), Plaza de Armas (La Serena), Palacio de la Justicia (Valparaiso), Cerro Alegre (Valparaiso), CHACO (Contemporary art fair, Santiago) The Lord Cochran Museum (Valparaiso), The Admiralbrücke Bridge (Berlín), Central Park (NYC), MTA Subway (NYC), Placa Sant Felip Neri (Barcelona), and 67 Ludlow (NYC). Maria Luisa currently lives and works in Barcelona, Spain, and in Santiago, Chile. To view her exhibition history, please visit

First Street Green Art Park Since 2008, First Street Green has converted a derelict building lot at 33 E. 1st Street in Manhattan into an open art space serving the Lower East Side community. Collaborating with NYC Parks and Partnership For Parks, FSG has successfully incorporated the lot into First Park. Today, FSG provides ongoing cultural activity in First Park by engaging with emerging artists, architects, community and cultural groups through a series of programs that activate this public space. For more information, visit

Artists Alliance Inc. is a 501c3 not for profit organization located on the Lower East Side of New York City within the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center. AAI is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. This program is made possible by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. We thank the New York City Economic Development Corporation and individual supporters of Artists Alliance Inc for their continued support. Special thanks go to our team of dedicated volunteers and interns, without whom this program would not be possible. For more information, visit