Developers have set their sights on the South Bronx, seeing it as the “next” neighborhood, an artsy enclave ripe for the taking. Their vicious cycle of urban colonization rejects truth in order to create a myth that will sell luxury condos to transplants while displacing a community that has been long neglected.
South Bronx native and multi-disciplinary artist Shellyne Rodriguez’s Incarnations of Belphegor illuminates this myth created by the gentrifying forces. Belphegor, seen in Rodriguez’s collage as a seven headed horned beast (resembling a leopard), is one of the seven princes of hell. His Modus Operandi is to seduce people by suggesting to them “ingenious inventions” that will make them rich. A critical analysis of predatory gestures drives the visual narrative in Shellyne’s work. The demon Rodriguez envisions has been summoned onto an empty plot of land within the neighborhood, which is ripe for the taking by prospective developers who will then push out longtime residents in order to lure their new mega rich patrons.