Max Arciniega helps me kick-off: So You Wanna Be A Baller?

May 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

We recently developed a series on New Futuro called So You Wanna Be A Baller?

For us, being a baller means you’re achieving in whatever field you’re a part of, and worked your butt off to make it happen. People who followed their passion and delivered, and who can help connect the dots as you think about your own path are vital.  New Futuro believes strongly that it’s important to highlight the specific steps necessary to get where you want to go. You can be a “baller” in absolutely any field, because in reality, the whole idea is about a path to success, no matter what you’re passionate about.

This week I had the honor of officially kicking off the series with our first baller: actor, musician, and Latino hero Max Arciniega.


And tune in this weekend to Poco a Poco Radio, to hear our FULL interview with Max.

Love is never too late.

March 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

I know it’s almost April, but I would be remiss if I didn’t share Rio Yañez’s 2012 crop of valentines amazingness.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my friends and lovers! El Rio’s Valentine’s Day Cards are back in the ring to take another swing! This is the 6th year of my cards and it’s turned into my longest running project. Enjoy!

As always, please post these cards on the pages of your online friends, real life enemies, booty calls, baby daddies, friends with benefits, people you’re stalking on facebook, and people you would be stalking on Google + but don’t want to go through the hassle of signing up with a new social network. 

Drone

Like a Dream

Romney & Gingrich

Trotsky and Diego

Mi Vida Loca

Poco a Poco Radio!

July 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

My papi and I have a brand new BILINGUAL radio show on WLUW 88.7 FM, Poco a Poco Radio. The show airs every Sunday from 1:30-2:00PM CST and can be listened to live on the radio or online at http://wluw.org.

If you missed last week’s show (the first episode) you can listen here:


And today tune in, to hear our LIVE interview with the incredibly talented, hilarious, and inspiring Elma Placeres Dieppa (@mzelma), Director of Latism Chicago.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Latism… you should be… #LATISM stands for Latinos in Social Media.

For more updates follow Poco a Poco Radio on Facebook & Twitter

Escobar-Morales

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Escobar-Morales

Artist Statement and Bio
Escobar-Morales is a team comprised of Maya Escobar and Andria Morales. The two artists, based in Chicago and Philadelphia respectively, have been working together over the Internet since 2010. They produce digital media and performance art that explores the role of self-representation in visual culture and its ability to deconstruct ingrained ideological conventions. By locating their performances online where they are free from restrictions of time and place, Escobar-Morales is able to concurrently enact multiple personas while simultaneously creating a unified hybrid self.

Maya Escobar was born in Chicago, IL in 1984.  Andria Morales was born in 1982 in New York, NY.  Escobar received a BFA from the School of the Art Institue of Chicago (2007) and an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis (2009); Morales received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania (2004) and an MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University (2008).

Valentines Day LOVE from El Rio

February 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

You them saw and loved them last year
Check out the new crop of Valentines by El Rio.

and as always:

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my friends, lovers, and drunken makeout partners! El Rio’s Valentine’s Day Cards are back for 2011 like a Sir Mix-A-Lot song! This is the 5th year of my cards and it’s turned into my longest running project. Enjoy!

As always, please post these cards on the pages of your online friends, real life enemies, booty calls, baby daddies, and friends with benefits.El Rio

Help Maya Help Lolo and Raise Awareness for Domestic Violence

February 8, 2011 § 1 Comment

Please support Maya Chinchilla in her efforts to raise $3,000 to send her partner Lolo, her mother Lolita and her daughter to Mexico to reunite with family they lost 34 years ago. Maya wants to use this experience to fight domestic violence and child abuse as well as create spaces for healing and support from our community. For more information about their story go here.

Instead of a birthday party this year with your help I am throwing a fundraiser for Lolo and her family to reunite with her 4 brothers and sisters that were kidnapped from her mother 34 years ago. This is the only thing I want for my birthday so please help make my wish come true!

So far for our silent auction we have:

-Warriors tickets donated by Lisa Marie
-a print and several goodies by artist Rio Yañez
-3 life coaching sessions valued at $100 each by Carmen Iñiguez & Colibri Coaching
-Burlesque class or performance at an event by Cherry Galette
-A meal for two at Lubaos Supper club donated by Irina Contreras and Nico Dacumos
-Dvds of the films ‘Pura Lengua’ and ‘Viernes Girl’ directed by Aurora Guerrero
-A dozen LadyCakes Cupcakes made by Anayvette Ladycakes Martinez

* ANd special Guests!

We will have yummy apetizers and we will be selling Sangria and asking for a $5-20 donation at the door. Please invite your friends and we are still taking auction donations and any other offerings you can think of!

Please share far and wide! More details to come!

Wonder Women Residency: New News is Old News

January 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

2011 is going to be a good year.  I can feel it already.  In addition to our upcoming presentation at the 2011 PCA/ACA Conference this April, Andria and I were also accepted to the Wonder Woman Residency at the _gaia studio, in New Jersey. Curated by Maya Joseph-Goteiner and Doris Caçoilo, this year’s theme is: New News is Old News.

New News is Old News
In our society, the importance of news has shifted; some would argue that it has been elasticized or else devalued. As the blogosphere replaces the daily newspaper as the purveyor and distributor of breaking news, the reporting of events is no longer filtered by the journalist/editor. Instead the voice of news is replaced by a dynamic exchange of information.

Already, online, the same article that has appeared black on white in the early print edition has been updated, corrected or even replaced on the web. Newspaper stories no longer fit the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of news as “a report of recent events: previously unknown information.” In many respects, we have created an endless source of updated information online, a bottomless pit of patter. We cannot possibly consume all the news and commentary published online, and while few people have the time to read the entire newspaper, even fewer can keep up with the minute-to-minute updates via Twitter, blogs, online publications, and RSS feeds.

A residency that focuses on the ways in which news is presented, represented, distributed, and modified within the space of the web…  hmm…  can you think of anything more perfect for us?

So what are we doing?

I won’t spill all the beans yet, but here is an excerpt from our preliminary proposal:

Our project takes its cue from the recent Buy Life Digital Death campaign, where celebrities volunteered their virtual lives (activity on Twitter and Facebook) with the goal of raising $1 million for children and families in Africa and India affected by HIV/AIDS. We were fascinated by their use of highly stylized, seductive images of Kim Kardashian (and other participating celebrities) lying in a coffin, and the role these images play in the dissemination of news coverage surrounding this HIV/AIDS campaign.

People Hate Kim Kardashian's Tweets More Than AIDS

Almost immediately following Digital Death’s inception, images of  a “dead” Kardashian started appearing in news stories everywhere from CNN to Gawker. Now layered with multiple levels of  history and meaning, screenshots of the sultry Kardashian lying in a coffin, continue to be re-distributed on personal blogs, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter pages…

Stay tuned for more project updates here and on Are You My Other?


AM + ME Open Studios

November 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

AM and I visit each other’s Studios on Are You My Other?
AM Books
AM studio
ME Books
ME Studio

Ian Weaver, The Black Knights of the Black Bottom, and Are You My Other?

November 18, 2010 § 1 Comment

On the afternoon of November 18, 2010, on the Island of Facebook, history was made…

Coat of Arms

in response to the Fat Free Elotera post:

Ian Weaver: I take ALL the credit for this (and future) collaborations between these two exceptional artists….! [just needed to make sure I put in that legal boilerplate stuff, just a formality]

Andria Morales: No doubt! We are eternally grateful to the prolific genius of Ian Weaver for the inspired notion of pairing us together.

Maya Escobar: YES!!! So true- we are Are You My Other? because of this Fine Man. We keep trying to figure out just how to pay homage… Latina Black Bottom promo girls? Just saying :)

Ian Weaver: By commenting on my post you have in effect given me the legal authority to profit in part from any future performances, lectures, presentations, and sales of related merchandise. I will work out the percentages later with my BB lawyer, but for conversation sake, let’s just say if you perform jointly at, say, the Mattress Factory or the Renaissance Society that I will net 33.33% of profits from said performance.

Again, I will get my BB lawyer to draw up the papers

Andria Morales: Did we just get served??? So much for the We ♥ BB Knights campaign…

Ian Weaver: Nooooo! You haven’t been served! I can’t do that online; you will be formally served in person presently (I think someone is at your door; delivery guy??? Flowers By Irene???)

Maya Escobar: I think a cut of all “BB profits” is totally fair and should be required.. LOL.. “profit” what an interesting concept… “to make money from art”… am I dreaming? But hey Ian if you can work us in to an of the aforementioned “performances, lectures, presentations, and sales of related merchandise” and oh “performances at, say, the Mattress Factory or the Renaissance SocietyAre You My Other? would be eternally grateful.

Ian Weaver: Done! I am on the phone with Hamza was we speak. I will work the Pittsburgh angle after the holidays.

And seriously, fantastic work by both of you! I got on the blog; really interesting! I am having Maya present in my spring Research class for artists, and if I had the dough I would fly you out Andria and have you guys co-present. But, that would blow my transfer student’s minds!

Andria Morales: I think Maya and I meeting each other in person would blow OUR minds. Lets start a fundraiser!

Maya Escobar: Wow, wow, wow!!! Is it okay with the two of you if I screen-shot this convo and re-post? Ian, I am going to try to see if there are any opps to lecture in other SAIC departments that week so that we could get funding for Andria to come in.

Andria Morales: Summon your internet powers

Ian Weaver: GO FOR IT! I AM OPEN TO IT!!

Critical Mixed Race Studies on iTunesU

November 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

Camilla Fojas, Director of Latin American and Latino Studies at DePaul University
Camilla Fojas, Director of Latin American and Latino Studies at DePaul University

If you missed the Nov 5-6, 2010 “Emerging Paradigms in Critical Mixed Race Studies” conference or any of the keynote talks or the welcoming address, you can now download the videos here via iTunesU.

  • November 5th Welcoming Remarks by DePaul’s Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean Charles Suchar and conference organizers Camilla Fojas, Wei Ming Dariotis, and Laura Kina.
  • November 5th Keynote Address by Andrew Jolivette “Critical Mixed Race Studies: New Directions in the Politics of Race and Representation”
  • November 6th Keynote Address by Mary Beltran “Everywhere and Nowhere: Mediated Mixed Race and Mixed Race Critical Studies”
  • November 6th Keynote Address by Louie Gong “Halfs and Have Nots”

And here are links to recaps of the conference on Laura Kina’s and Jonathan Reinert’s blogs.

more soon…

OffLine Photos

June 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

OffLine Video Art Exhibition in Valparaiso, Chile. Photos and videos by Menru Silva

Jaime Silva, Jessica Bruna, Juvenal Barría, Cynthia Jackson, Maya Escobar, Señorita Ugarte, Paulo Fernandez, and Kenru La Hermana Gemela Altiplánica

el es frida kahlo

Be Wife

belated valentines day love from el rio

February 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

Sorry for the delay in this post. I have been in Chicago tied up with CAA, so much so, that the lovely Hallmark holiday of love, almost slipped through my fingers. But have no fear, I am back with full force, presenting my now frequent colllaborator Rio Yañez’s pop culture, commodified, chicano, arty valentines amazingness.

From his El Rio flickr page:

What’s up to all my friends, lovers, and drunken makeout partners! El Rio’s Valentine’s Day Cards are back in the ring to take another swing for 2010! This is the 4th year of my cards and it’s turned into my longest running project. Enjoy!

As always, please post these cards on the pages of your friends, enemies, sexting partners, craigslist hookups, and friends with benefits.

Issues, 2010

Stimulus, 2010

Sotomayor, 2010

Supa Freaks, 2008

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/151/388897878_c877ddd9a4_o.jpg

El Rio’s Valentine’s Day Cards # 2, 2007

Moz Lov, 2009

rio prayed for la virgen de guadalupe and instead got…

December 13, 2009 § 1 Comment

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I am quite the fan of awful horrible animated gifs.  As I continue to work with seeNoga and Rio Yañez on the Jewish characters from Acciones Plásticas プリクラ: The Jewess Blogging Queen, The Avodah Girl and The 612er; I thought I would share this terrible image created early on in our collaboration. There is also another version (which I can no longer find) where in last frame of the gif sequence, it rains diet cokes. :)

maya rio animated gif

Talking About Orchard Street

October 31, 2009 § 1 Comment

photo by Julian Voloj

Maya and Gonzalo Escobar create Talking about Orchard Street, a multi-sensory interactive installation that explores the generational transmission of Jewish life through dialog.  The father-daughter duo traveled from Chicago to New Haven to conduct interviews with former members and friends of Orchard Street Shul and to record locals’ stories of growing up in New Haven during the 1920s and 30s. These stories of everyday life include tales of flirting on the front steps of the shul, eating herring and kichel, speaking Jewish, finding first jobs, going on first dates, learning bar mitzvah portions, and hearing (or having) loud conversations in the women’s section.  In Talking about Orchard Street, visitors are invited to sit in comfortable armchairs, sample herring and kichel, listen to excerpts from interviews and engage in dialog with each other.

click here for more information about the Orchard Street Shul Artist Cultural Heritage Project

Nuevos Compañeros: Rio Yañez

September 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

My newest partner in crime is the talented, witty, godzilla and pikapika lovin’ Chicano artist and curator Rio Yañez. I first came across his Ghetto Frida two years ago, while working on the project Obsessed With Frida Kahlo. Immediately I felt some sort of cosmic connection-not to Ghetto Frida- but to her creator. And then to make matters worse better, I found out that he is the son of one my biggest heroes- Yolanda Lopez!

There was really no option other than collaboration.  It was fate.

Last month we finally initiated our long distance partnership through a tweet.  Since then we have been communicating through TwitPic, Facebook, YouTube, phone calls and texts,  and of course mutual shouts in interviews on the blogosphere (mine to RioRio’s  to me.)

Here are a few examples of Rio’s recent work:

Amber Rose by El Rio.

“I’ve been twittering for about a week now at http://twitter.com/rioyanez. I signed up as a way to contact Amber Rose after she started writing and posting about the portrait I created of her. I have to say, the most exciting aspect of twitter is the way people distribute images. The short urls for twitpics that often pop up on tweets evoke a sense of curiosity in me; more so than the many thumbnails that can be found on facebook. I think the lack of a thumbnail is more alluring and it forces you to chose to see the image or not, there’s no middle ground of a provided preview.” (from his blog)

“Artist Curator Rachel-Anne Palacios flanked by Zitlalix and I. I created this portrait to thank Rachel for including me in the recent Frida exhibit she curated and to join the many artists who are on display on the walls of her apartment” (from flickr)

These images represent my first foray into my Raza Zombies series. They were inspired by the single best mainstream comic book of the 21st century: Marvel Zombies. Marvel Zombies re-imagines classic superheroes as flesh eating zombies. After reading it I felt compelled to do some zombie transformations on a few of my own personal heroes. More to come. (from flickr)

Video of Gomez Peña setting the record straight for Rio regarding his Facebook presence.

Rio’s Ghetto Frida Mural in the Mission District

stay tuned for more…

Nuevos Compañeros 2

June 11, 2007 § 1 Comment

Please Check for updates, as I continue to add more to this post.

Dianna Montano

Dianna Montano is currently finishing her BFA in sculpture/ installation/ new media art at Colorado State Univeristy in Albuquerque, NM.

When I found her Ay Chico (Lengua Afuera) Music Video, on youtube I immediately contacted her and asked her if she would be interested in collaborating. She gladly agreed, so I am introducing her work as continuation to the
Nuevos Compañeros post.

Dianna says:

Critiquing the onslaught of perversion, and obsession of Latina women. This video subverts the stereotype, by overtly portraying what is all too prevalent in mainstream culture. Latina women are poised as nothing more than sex objects. With this, the woman literally becomes the “spicy latina” everyone desires. It also relates to how Latina women deal with the stereotypes and expectations that are imposed by sources such as family, religion, and the media. For Latinas, sexual power is in constant conflict.


Below is an installation shot of her piece:


My “Spicy Latina” piece in its full glory. It doesn’t get any better than chili pepper lights, Mexican sarape blankets, a traditional Virgin de Guadalupe, and a gold dangly. ay ay ay!!

Check out this post Identity Issues Affecting Puerto Rican Girls: An Artist Speaks to hear more on the Spicy Latina.

I have been told “Oh you just look like you like to have sex” (by both men and women.) I have come to expect this as the norm: being called a spicy latina, hot tamale, firecracker and other such fiery terms. Cofer states that “advertisers have designated “sizzling” and “smoldering” as the adjectives of choice for describing not only the foods but the women of Latin America.”

Maya Escobar isn’t even Jewish

June 8, 2007 § 17 Comments

UPDATE: PHOTOS

2005

On an almost daily basis, I receive emails from people asking if I am in fact actually Jewish. Although I do find it somewhat bizarre that they find satisfaction in my acknowledgment of what I have already stated numerous times, I usually respond. Come to think of it, the occasions where I have been accepted as a Jew (without further questioning) have been few and far between.

  • “ No you can’t be Jewish you are Hispanic”
  • “You don’t look Jewish”
  • “Escobar… is that a Sephardic name?”

Recently I discovered that without our knowledge, the validity of my own and my brother Gonzalo’s Jewishness has come into question (to the point where documentation has been requested) from people that we are now very close with.

Below are some of the examples of comments (not emails, I do not share the content of emails without permission) from youtube:

roundedwhtcollar Am I the only one who thinks this reprobate Turd is NOT in fact a Jew?

Rafaelpicc But is her las name jewish? or converted?

ReptorY her last name isnt jewish.

xruchy you are not jewish i guess… tus videos= cero aporte

raquelita40 she’s half Jewish/ half Guatemalan.

nakedjanet i am also suspicious. for one thing, escobar is not a typical Jewish name. For another, Jewish girls are usually a whole lot smarter, and have a whole lot more substance, than this girl has

(from chaptzem blogspot) There is no way she is Jewish- there may be a small chance her family are anusim or something.

But what gets even more bizarre is that interspersed with in those comments are horrible anti-semitic statements:

johnnycastle86xx all the jews have to die, stupid jewish puta de mierda. Que mierda que Hitler no mato a tu familia, asi tu no hubieras nacido. muerte a los judios y muerte a israel.

mocrostyle3600 AnotherJewish nasty bitch

mrrimfire She’s an ugly cockroach

filet there’s a nice Jewishcrew- club… Its re-open and called Auschwitz. the drinks are on the house!!! but only for jewish people

roshanpinto13 i want to put you in a concentration camp bitch if your people want israel so bad why don’t you go there and rid the world from your hideous jewish ways

So in light of my sarcasric sense of humor I entitled this post : Maya Escobar isn’t even Jewish I wonder what will come of that statement… From Judaism 101: Who Is a Jew?

First, traditional Judaism maintains that a person is a Jew if his mother is a Jew, regardless of who his father is. The liberal movements, on the other hand, consider a person to be Jewish if either of his parents was Jewish and the child was raised Jewish. Thus, if the child of a Jewish father and a Christian mother is raised Jewish, the child is a Jew according to the Reform movement, but not according to the Orthodox movement. On the other hand, if the child of a Christian father and a Jewish mother is not raised Jewish, the child is a Jew according to the Orthodox movement, but not according to the Reform movement! The matter becomes even more complicated, because the status of that children’s children also comes into question.

In my case my mother is Jewish and my father is not. Yet it is my father that pushed me to go to Hebrew school until I was 16. Rain or shine my parents have been attending Shabbat services at JRC for almost 20 years. I remember being so mad as a child that my friends got to go out on Friday nights, and I was stuck with my family not even allowed to watch TV when we got home from services. Vickie Korey left the nicest comment on my Rabbi Brant Rosen’s blog:

I remember Maya at Friday night services at JRC, sometimes listening intently, sometimes reading, but always being present. When one of the children of our extended spiritual family grows to be such a fine, thoughtful and accomplished young woman we are all proud. Gonzolo and Tina have worked hard to set a strong foundation for Maya and I am so pleased for her and her family.

A few months ago I met with my Rabbi to discuss my (art) work. During our discussion I mentioned to him how my father is feeling really nervous about me having an orthodox wedding where he will not be included in the ceremony. Brant said something to me that really touched my heart. Your father is the essence of what a Jew is, he is a stranger in a strange land. I agree with him whole-heartedly, and if you ask most JRC members I am sure they would agree as well. However that does not change the fact that he is not considered to be Jewish by our neighbors, and even if he converted, to them it would not be halakhic unless he went through orthodox conversion.

So who is a Jew? Who determines this?

As I stated in a previous post I will be working as the art director this summer for Camp JRF. I am in the process of creating this summer’s curriculum that will be geared towards answering these very questions and challenging notions of Jewish Identity. Below is a very rough sketch of my plan…. (Please let me know if you have any suggestions, or would be interested in contributing any resources)

The Changing Face of Jewish Identity: an exploration of self and what it means to be a Jew in our contemporary society

To introduce the concept of a changing Jewish Identity will discuss the following:

  • How do we define ourselves/ how do others define us?
  • Who is a Jew?
  • Can someone be more or less Jewish/ who decides this?
  • What is our role in society?
  • What characteristics make up a Jew?

Mediums Mixed media sculpture

Art Exhibitions The Jewish Identity Project Too Jewish Challenging Tradition Identities

Written Works by Ilan Stavans Achy Obejas Rebecca Walker

Campers will produce mixed media sculptures that reflect their perception of what it means to be a Jew

Pre- Activities:

  • We will begin as an ice breaker/ intro to project identifying the characteristics that make up Jews.
  • Followed by a discussion on contemporary representations of Jews in Popular culture

Project Campers working in groups of 3-4 will have the option of creating either abstract or representational mixed media sculptures that to them represent Jewish identity. Prior to the construction of their piece students will need to create a (flexible) proposal that outlines their piece.

  • Will it be site specific (interact with a certain location)?
  • What form will it take?
  • Will it have a function?
  • What materials will be used based on the above?

If they end up going with more representational sculptures I thought it would be really cool to photograph the sculptures and to place them in various Jewish settings and non-Jewish settings (baseball stadium, temple, Shabbat dinner, work, school….)

Identity Issues Affecting Puerto Rican Girls: An Artist Speaks

May 23, 2007 § 19 Comments

In her essay The Myth of the Latina Woman/ Just Met a Girl Named Maria, Judith Ortiz Cofer describes her Puerto Rican upbringing in a strict Catholic home in New Jersey, where she was taught to behave like a proper señorita. Cofer explains that the conflicting messages she received as a child, were those commonly propagated by Puerto Rican mothers. “They encourage their daughters to look and act like women and to dress in clothes that our Anglo friends and their mothers found to mature for our age.”

When the mere notion of latinidad equates passion and sexuality to gringos, why is it that Latino men are the first ones to point finger and to call these same women suelta (loose) or facil (easy)? Wouldn’t they understand? Have they not been subjected to the same treatment? Perhaps it is comes down to the way they were raised.

In the Latino culture ideas of masculinity and femininity are delineated very early on. Author Evelyn P. Stevens, first introduced this concept know as machismo and marianismo in 1973. Machismo grants supreme authority of the man over the woman. Under this doctrine women, who are considered to be morally and spiritually superior to men are able to endure abuse. They grow up expected to follow the sexual code of marianismo, and are submissive to the man’s authority.

Puerto Rican culture places women into one of two categories the virgin or the whore; mujeres de la casa (women of the home) or mujeres de la calle (women of the street). Una mujer de la casa, is expected to be pure, giving and compassionate. While, una mujer de la calle is considered to be sluty, wild, and dangerous.

In Honor and the American Dream: Culture and Identity in a Chicano Community, author Ruth Horowitz says the following:

The very presence of a woman outside the household implicates them in promiscuity and/or sexual misconduct. Puerto Rican girls learn this good girl/bad girl dichotomy most clearly in the recruitment into reproductive labor… A good girl cooks, cleans, takes care of younger siblings, and helps her parents. In contrast una muchacha de la calle is a transgressive women who has gone beyond patriarchal control whose sexuality is unbounded and therefore dangerous.

While in Puerto Rico this January, I had the privilege of meeting the incredibly talented video artist, Tamara Liz Rivera Boria. Tamara and I instantly bonded, finding similarity in the content of our work, and decided that we needed to collaborate.

I conducted a short series of interviews with her (documented with the camera from my laptop), where she describes her work as it plays on the screen behind her…


click on above image to view video

Interview with Puerto Rican Artist Tamara Liz Rivera Boria

Maya: Tamara, what can you tell me about muchachas de la calle and muchachas de las casa?

Tamara: De la casa and de la calle girls might as well be related. They exchange roles sometimes, de la casa girl wanting to be de la calle, and vice versa.

Maya: How has this affected you?

Tamara: I was raised in a catholic home, in a catholic school. I can tell you, I have been fucked up. I didn’t want to be told what to do, or what to believe in.How can you tell someone that using a condom is a sin? I had many issues over the years being raised like that. Even though my parents are not Catholic extremists. They were pretty easy going that’s how they could understand me or deal with me. Deep inside it made a mark, no matter how much I tried to live and understand the world. I became insane trying to understand other people lifestyle because indeed I might have been raised inside a bubble. I still am kind of in there, don’t wanting to look at how things really are.

Maya: What role does your cultural upbringing play in your work?

Tamara: Recently I made a video called él, baño de marîa. In this video I present various symbolism about religion, pecados (sins), sexuality, purity, faith among other things. Mainly because our culture has raised us thinking inside the box, controlling us with Christianity, especially Catholicism. Being pure, waiting till marriage although most don’t do it, is deep inside the mind. Like it is wrong to embrace sexuality.

Aglubium, is another video I made in collaboration with Ralph Vazquez and Rebecca Adorno. In this video I am drowning, or trying to kill myself by submerging my head in the water. It’s aggressive, and it’s beautiful. We just want to end, we don’t want to think. We don’t want to face fears. We don’t want to wait, we want to get it over. We want to drown our fears. We don’t want to face reality. Escape its what we do.

Maya: How do you escape?

Tamara: Most people (Puerto Ricans) use drugs. Puerto Ricans that do not use illegal drugs, use legal pills, alcohol or even coffee. Everyone has an addiction. It’s a shame but I have seen most of my friends doing drugs. I been there, I done that but I never had an addiction. My new boyfriend said I was an alcoholic, he didn’t believe me when I said I wasn’t. It wasn’t till he lived with me for over a moth when he saw that I didn’t drink for so long that he believed me, and with the cigarettes the same.

For some weird reason I can try things for as long as I want and not create any addiction. I wish it were the same with those that surround me. But in the arts almost all the people I know use some kind of drugs, are the ones that worry me the most are the most intelligent that keep using. I guess they are not that smart…

Maya: Is there an alternative to escape?

Tamara: I can see clearly that with true art I can make a difference, I can say what I understand to be real and important. I might help somebody. Other people just ignore what is going on (Puerto Rico). So many things had happen here, that demanded the people marching up the streets in protest, because our government is insane. But people don’t, they just “sit quietly”. They don’t want to get involved, they think they cannot change anything. They believe they have no power, when indeed I say, with all your power, what would you do? – I love that flaming lips song-

Maya: How does this affect Puerto Rican girls?

Tamara: Puerto Rican girls have many issues. Not only because of gringos (Americans) our identity issues extend into religion and the ways women are portrayed in the reggaeton culture. Girls want to be thin like gringas (American girls), they don’t like they’re beautiful curves, ass and tits. They always feel fat no matter how thin they are. I bet this happen everywhere, but these are issues we shouldn’t have.

Accepting ourselves, as we are its what we should do. Because we are not gringas! We are not blonde and white! But boys see these girls in TV, and everywhere and they expect girls like that. It’s the gringo media. I’ve forgotten all about this, but I also had these issues. I think I kind of still do, I just ignore most of the time.

Maya: You mentioned Reggaeton, what message do you think Reggaeton is sending to young women?

Tamara: Reggaeton is a part of that movement leads ladies to feeling less than the man, like he has to buy her. Girls learn to use their sexual power way to early with reggaeton. It is a confrontation for some, between what they like (reggaeton movement, lifestyle) and the religious foundation they might have. But since it probably was forced (religion) they escaped thru reggaeton. Ultimately ending in ugly situations.

Maya: Okay , I agree with you. But I am not going to lie, I love reggaeton… are you sure you don’t secretly like it?

Tamara: I don’t dig reggaeton; I see how girls embrace being just a piece of meat, especially high schools girls. How much is this necklace, like a million? Said a girl, the boy answered – no. The girl said – well then, work and buy me this necklace.

Yesterday I heard a senior girl say that to her boyfriend at a hotel, it was their prom. Girls parade in lil’ dresses, easily they could have been mistaken for high-class whores. I won’t even comment on the dancing. It has gotten worse, every time. Since parents are so young they allow they’re children to behave like this. I mean, I see a problem with these situations. Boys catch another boy,looking at their girls, no matter if its sexual or if they just passed and look because its simply there, they get all worked up and want to fight. What is that dumbass looking at? So basically, what, people cant look at each other now? Girls can’t stand if you look at them either. Puerto Rico was not like that; you went to the mall, smiled and people smiled back at you.

The reggaeton anger and sexual damage can be easily identified. Even kindergarten boys are sexually harassing little girls. My mom is a teacher and I have heard some stories. I haven’t analyzed reggaeton issues deeply; this is just for what I have seen.

Maya: Thank you for your insight Tamara, I can’t wait to see what you produce next. I hope we can collaborate together in the future.

Tamara: I know I could make more sense out of my ideas, since they’re not organized very well, but it doesn’t matter. This is just the beginning of many wonderful works to come, ideas to flow… I’m glad that I can collaborate with you.

“Everything that surrounds me, mi entorno, makes a part of who I am and what I say in my videos. Little by little its somehow implicated.”

As I begrudgingly stated in my interview with Tamara, I am a fan of reggaeton. Like most, I don’t even acknowledge the lyrics or really think too much beyond the beat of the music. Yet now I find myself wondering, are most girls conscious of the message? I guess to some extent they must be, after all as Tamara shared many sing the lyrics as they grind (rub up) on men.

In my research I found extensive commentary regarding the direction of Salsa and its implications on women in the Puerto Rican community. However, as it is relatively new form of music, the writing concerning Reggaeton seems to be incredibly limited.

So I turned to a more contemporary source and found a blog entitled REGGAETONICA, written by Raquel Z. Rivera; author of New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone. In a recent post: From White to Mulata: The Darkening Powers of Reggaetón, she shares an email addressing this very issue:

I think reggaeton has been raunchy & explicitly all along, but I think the lyrics have reverted back to the “Reggeaton Sex” days of Underground. I think that “raunchiness” & degradation have become more mainstream & therefore are seen as less scandalous & more acceptable to society, so I think it has questioned our value as a community. The fact that Reggaeton outright refers to sexual references & acts & is accepted as mainstream Puerto Rican culture posing an interesting cultural issue for me. Now you can go to Puerto Rico and see young girls singing “dame con el palo, ” & they’re parents paying no mind to it, which I think is crazy. In the beginning of Reggaeton I found the lyrics to be much more raunchy, violent, & drug-related. Then mainstream Reggaeton came along, switched the “sexo” to “amor” & the “nenas” to “gatas.” I think these subtle changes in language allowed Reggaeton to be more successful in the mainstream, but now a lot of artists are moving back to the original lyrics because they already have a stable fan base. I mean, look at someone like Tony Dize, if you translated some of his songs into English, they could put even 50 Cent to shame with the blatant sexual references & degradation of women.

Perhaps reggaeton is so widely accepted by mainstream and popular culture, because it provides a free ticket to promote these concepts in a non-threatening form. If Puerto Rican women and other Latinas are fine dancing to this music, then what harm is there in gringos doing the same.

This then becomes representative of Puerto Rican culture. When a gringa dances to reggaeton she can purse her lips and grind on men, but without an attached stigma. She is just acting like a Latina girl. The Puerto Rican girls participating in this scene are aiding in the further perpetuation of the stereotype of Latina’s being easy.

However, as Tamara explained a lot of this has to do with a search for independence. Wanting to rebel against the forced restrictions of being una mucha de la casa, girls go to the furthest extreme to break down those barriers. But to what cost?

I myself am unable to provide a concrete solution. Yet I do think that one of the primary steps to forward progress is conversation. Tamara and myself have opted to publish the text on the web so that others may join in the dialog…

Producto? Inc

March 28, 2007 § 1 Comment

UPDATE

Braulio was featured on artnet.com

Artist Alfi Rolón performing as part of Braulio Espinosa Castillo’s “Artistas de Hoy”

Circa ’07 also featured a row of smaller booths housing individual projects by invited artists. One of the most popular was “Artistas de Hoy,” a project stage-managed by Braulio Espinosa Castillo of Producto? Inc., for which he somehow convinced 40 artists to pose in a glass display case alongside a video of their artwork. The combination was a perfect gambit. Not only were the videos illuminating, but fair visitors clearly were enchanted by the opportunity to stare at real artists standing in a booth.

Producto? Inc. es una propuesta que nace de la reflexión en torno a la condición “natural” del individuo como producto mercantil. Con la dirección de Braulio Espinosa Castillo y la colaboración incondicional de familiares, amigos, colegas artistas y auspiciadores.

El proceso de cosificación que produce la sociedad de consumo a la que nos enfrentamos a diario no se limita solo a la materia no viviente y no pensante, sino también a los seres humanos: mercaderes y consumidores. Siempre el hombre ha puesto algún tipo de valor sobre la materia, sea viva o no. Un producto mercantil es una cosa producida con la finalidad de la venta. En el contexto actual de vida somos un producto mercantil, primero por que somos una cosa producida. Producida por el hogar, la iglesia, las escuelas, la universidad, los trabajos. Segundo, mientras no exista otro sistema económico, todos cambiaremos dinero por nuestro servicio; trabajo y conocimiento. El salario mide el precio del trabajo, que a fin de cuenta, define el valor material del trabajador, el producto. En algunos países el acto es aún más literal, cuando se venden esclavos, niños y órganos humanos.

En CIRCA 07 estarán participando 40 colegas artistas, cada uno con su propuesta individual de ellos mismos como producto mercantil. Durante 25 minutos estarán en exhibición, en instalación-performace.

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