March 24, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Will you be attending?
Andria Bibiloni, 28, of New York, ceased to exist on Mar. 23, 2011 in Philadelphia, where she lived since 2000. A visual artist and educator, she strove through her work to facilitate a dialogue about sociopolitical and interpersonal issues. Known for riding her Blasterbike, 2007, in the streets of Philadelphia, her departing wish was to be displayed riding a bigger, louder, and heavier soundblasting vehicle. Beth Beverly of Diamond Tooth Taxidermy will be handling the preparations for the viewing, which takes place at the Rotunda in University City on Sunday March 27 from 3-5 pm. Guests are invited to stay for refreshments.
March 11, 2011 § 2 Comments
UPDATE: visit AreYouMyOther.com to see Bibiloni’s mass card.
Have you ever Googled Puerto Rican funeral? If you haven’t then I suggest you do. And if you live in Philadelphia or in the surrounding area, you should attend Andria Morales and Beth Beverly’s collaborative performance Last Ride.
LAST RIDE: collaborative performance-based artwork by Andria Morales & Beth Beverly. Inspired by Puerto Rican funeral celebrations & taxidermy traditions – 03/27/2011 @ The Rotunda @ 3:00pm-5:00pm
Performance and reception
Sunday March 27, 2011
The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St., Philadelphia
LAST RIDE is a collaborative performance-based artwork by Andria Morales and Beth Beverly. Inspired by Puerto Rican funeral celebrations and taxidermy traditions respectively, the artists have found a common interest in death. Using the Rotunda’s church-like interior as a backdrop, the artist’s work will invite viewers to experience mourning as a celebration.
Andria Morales (formerly Andria Bibiloni) explores the divide between art representative of culture, and art produced from within a cultural community. By immersing herself in situations where cultural identity is consequential, she aims to provoke viewers into a confrontation and analysis of their own preconceptions. The resulting work is multidisciplinary, consisting of mixed media sculptures, self-portraits, performance based videos, and site-specific installations. Andria Morales’s work has been exhibited at Labor K1 in Berlin, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Projects Gallery in Philadelphia, the Ice Box in Philadelphia, and the CUE Art Foundation in New York. In 2008 she was awarded a Joan Mitchell MFA Grant for her work in mixed media sculpture and installation. Andria is currently a resident in the 40th St. Artist in Residence Program, and teaches at Tyler School of Art.
Beth Beverly is a State- and Federally-licensed taxidermist who has a BFA from Tyler School of Art and graduated from the Pocono Institute of Taxidermy with high marks. Ms. Beverly is passionate about using every part of an animal and being thankful for the ultimate sacrifice each creature makes to land both in her studio and on her plate. She has won numerous awards for her taxidermy creations, including Best in Show at the fifth annual Carnivorous Nights taxidermy contest in New York. Beth’s work has been exhibited at Bahdee Bahdu Gallery, James Oliver Gallery, Wilbur Vintage Boutique and has been featured in a plethora of fashion & art blogs.
Admission is FREE
January 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s hard for me to fully express my disappointment and frustration with Arizona’s law makers… last week they passed HB 2281 witch bans “Ethnic Studies” in the states K-12 grade classrooms. I cannot emphasize how important it is to be able to learn about the history of our peoples, of our ancestors, and to be able to find pride and empowerment in that. It’s such a sad and scary time in both Arizona and the country. Here is a great article about HB 2281 that I found very interesting…
So now I want to share my favorite Save by the Bell episode where Slater finds his Chicano Power!!! I feel it’s a great example of why having Ethnic Studies in our classrooms is so crucial…
FUCK ARIZONA’S ETHNOCENTRIC LAWS… WE NEED TO FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT TO LEARN OUR HISTORY, OUR CULTURE AND THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF OUR RAZA… TIERRA, JUSTICIA, Y LIBERTAD!!!
RIGHT ON MAYRA!!!
And be sure to check out her collaboration with the always amazing Rio Yañez
October 7, 2010 § 2 Comments
September 22, 2010 § Leave a Comment
II VVVIENAL DE VIDEO ARTE VALPARAÍSO 2010
29 DE SEPTIEMBRE AL 2 DE OCTUBRE
INAUGURACIÓN Y SORTEO GRAN RIFA GRAN
29 DE SEPTIEMBRE 20:00 HRS.
CINE CONDELL / CALLE CONDELL 1585
NOS TOMAMOS EL EX CINE PORNO!!!!
MIÉRCOLES 29 DE SEPTIEMBRE
20:00 Hrs. INAUGURACIÓN.
21:30 Hrs a 23:00 Hrs.
ESTILO EXPERIMENTAL LIBRE + VISUALES
INSTALACIÓN PERFORMÁTICA COLECTIVO COMBI-NATION / PA QUE TE PIQUE
JUEVES 30 DE SEPTIEMBRE
12:00Hrs a 13.00 hRS
CONVERSACIÓN CON RITA FERRER / MODERA GUISELA MUNITA
15:30 Hrs a 22:00 Hrs.
EXHIBICIÓN DE VIDEOS E INSTALACIONES.
21:00 Hrs a 23:00 Hrs
MÚSICA ELECTROACÚSTICA EXPERIMENTAL + VISUALES
DJ FRACASO + VISUALES
VIERNES 1 DE OCTUBRE
12:00Hrs a 13.00 hRS
CONVERSACIÓN CON FRANCISCO HUICHAQUEO “EL DISCURSO POLÍTICO EN LA ESTÉTICA AUDIOVISUAL” / MODERA GUISELA MUNITA
15:30 Hrs a 22:00 Hrs.
EXHIBICIÓN DE VIDEOS E INSTALACIONES.
20:00 Hrs a 21:00 Hrs
TERAPIA GRUPAL / MÚSICA EXPERIMENTAL + VISUALES ANÁLOGAS
21:00 Hrs a 22:00 Hrs
REINOSO SANTANA SMITH (ELECTRÒNICA Y CACHIVACHES VARIOS)
ESTARÁN PRESENTANDO UN HOMENAJE AUDIOVISUAL DEDICADO A LA MEMORIA DEL DR. JORGE KAPLAN MEYER Y SU EQUIPO, QUIENES REALIZARON EL PRIMER TRANSPLANTE DE CORAZÓN EN CHILE. PARA ELLO SE HARÀN VALER DE UNA SERIE DE IMAGENES PERTENECIENTES A LOS REGISTROS DEL DOCTOR KAPLAN Y QUE LLEVA POR NOMBRE “CUIDADANO DE BUEN CORAZÒN”
DURACIÒN: 21 MIN.
ALE PEREZ: WWW.ELPUEBLODECHINA.ORG
SÁBADO 2 DE OCTUBRE
12:00Hrs a 13.00 hRS
PREM SARJO y ROCÍO CASAS BULNES, DIÁLOGO ENTORNO A SU PERFORMANCE RAVOTRIL / MODERA GUISELA MUNITA
15:30 Hrs a 22:00 Hrs.
EXHIBICIÓN DE VIDEOS E INSTALACIONES.
21:00 Hrs a 22:00 Hrs
CEREMONIA DE CLAUSURA.
EDIFICA & PORTALUPPI / VJ DJ
EXPOSITORES II VVVIENAL VIDEO ARTE VALPARAÍSO
CECILIA VICUÑA / GIOVANNI LONGO / FERNANDA BARROS / KLAUDIA KEMPER / PAULO FERNÁNDEZ / SENORITAUGARTE / MELANIA LYNCH / CYNTHIA JACKSON / ZAIDA GONZALES / CARLOS SILVA / JUVENAL BARRÍA / JESSICA BRUNA / PREM SARJO / FRANCISCO HUICHAQUEO / MATIAS BIGGS / VICTOR URZÚA / MARIANA GUZMÁN / FRANCISCA VILLELA/ GIANFRANCO FOSCHINO / PABLO VERGARA / MARÍA JOSÉ ROJAS BOLLO / PABLO ULLOA/ MYRÉN URIARTE / N.A.R / ALVARO HERZ / GABRIELA RIVER A/ FELIPE ROJAS / ELECTRO PY / DJ FRACASO / COME PERRO FUMA GATO/ TETONES / ANTONIA CRUZ / ROSARIO ATEAGA / MISS3SENORITAS / COLECTIVO LEPIDÓPTERO ACCIÓN DE ARTE AUDIOVISUAL
JEAN MARC LAMOURE / CAROLINE DELAPORTE / GEE-JUNG JUN / MOIRA TIERNEY
SELECCIÓN DE VIDEOS CULTORES POPULARES
CENTRO DE LA DIVERSIDAD CULTURAL DE VENEZUELA
SELECCIÓN GENERAL DE VIDEOS REALIZADA POR:
VICTOR HUGO BRAVO
MENRU SILVA AVILA
ITINERANCIA II VVVIENAL DE VIDEO ARTE VALPARAÍSO 2010
COMPILACIÓN DE VIDEOS
PIA MICHELLE 30 SEPTIEMBRE AL 02 DE OCTUBRE
CASA BLANCA 13 Octubre
QUILPUE 8- 9 Octubre
VILLA ALEMANA 8- 9 Octubre
QUINTERO 15-16 Octubre
QUILLOTA 22-23 Octubre
LOS ANDES 22- 23 Octubre
VALPARAÍSO / ANIBAL PINTO
29 – 30 Octubre / LANZAMIENTO PÁGINA WEB
ILUSTRE MUNICIPALIDAD DE VALPARAÍSO
PLATAFORMA CULTURA DIGITAL
August 12, 2010 § 1 Comment
My beautiful and incredibly talented cousin Eleanor Dubinsky has just released a new album entitled sea inside. I bought my copy last night and listened to it over and over… eventually falling asleep to her voice. My favorite tracks on the album are Missouri Sky and Estoy Sola.
sea inside is available on iTunes for $6.95.
January 28, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Indie-soul songstress Eleanor Dubinsky combines sultry, jazzy vocals with global pop to create hot original music with international appeal. Her music fuses French pop, canto nuevo and new American soul, using multiple languages and global rhythms to tell a story that is personal and universally accessible. Based in New York City she performs her original music throughout the New York City area, the United States and internationally.
In addition to singing, Eleanor plays cello, guitar and hand percussion. She writes in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and her international background and ease with many languages and cultures enhance her personal appeal as an artist to people from all over the world. Eleanor independently released her debut EP “Us” in May 2009 and is currently finishing her debut LP for release in 2010.
Check her out at EleanorDubinsky.com.
November 26, 2009 § 1 Comment
a guest post by seeNoga.
NOESCO* in a wustlworkshop, photo by stan strembicki
As you doggedly pursue, chase, and snap at the heels of your Self, you do so knowing there is no chance you will ever catch up. For each of us, throughout our individual lives, we will be ever distant from knowing our own selves. When a person pursues his or her Self in an aggressive, determined way, the resulting hyperactive sensibility allows for a greater adaptability and sensitivity. This flexibility can be useful in contemporary human life, but only to a certain extent. It is also due to the fast-paced nature of today’s engineered environments, that there is a strong tendency (especially among young people) to go to extreme lengths in order to sustain within their own lives the hyperactivity and intensity they witness in popular culture and media. Consider the called-for constant reachability via cell-phones and laptops, as well as many other forms of expedition in our ‘lived-in’ world. These accommodations range from aerodynamics to ATMs. As many workers in today’s professional world simultaneously lament and extol their parasitic relationships with a Blackberry or other such Pocket God, I, too, have at many times felt chained to my laptop (i.e. the Internet), fearing I would miss something absolutely critical. Unfortunately, the fact that missing anything important has not happened for the most part, hardly affects the worry and anxiety that it might happen.
Yet still, it seems, this once motivating anxiety is becoming a repressed urge, one which is less and less a bother, the more my environment becomes one seamless, semi-omniscient “news” feed. On the evening of President Barack Obama’s Address to the Nation, Maya Escobar recorded “Obama Tweet: How a New Generation Gets Their Information.” In this video Escobar documented a particular event, an important cultural event, one which incidentally brought the use of Twitter to the fore in popular culture.
Obama Tweet: How a New Generation Gets Their Information, 2008
I was with Escobar on this evening and was struck by the depth of her interaction with the digital realm. She was sitting in front of a T.V. broadcast of the speech, while she was also further mediating that media via her computer, on which she was following Twitter and CNN.com’s coverage of the event. Beyond all that, Escobar was creating her own real-time, indexical document of the event on television along with CNN and Twitter as instantaneous forms of annotations to the President’s speech. Escobar was watching, sitting one more stage removed, behind the lens of a video camera. Because of the way in which she layered the television screen the computer screen and then the interface of any viewer’s monitor, Escobar has effortlessly choreographed a multi-layered, engagement with the very most current of events. However, though I may have somewhat qualified and rationalized instant-communication tools, I still believe there must be a deliberate effort to complement those socially-prescribed media with other, independent forms of digital exchanges. While I do believe in the great social potential of our rapidly advancing communications media, my work seeks to push and pull on parts of these evolving global ‘informachines,’ in an effort to challenge the omnipresence of commercial media.
Look Out, 2008
That sort of layering of non-dimensional spaces is unique to the contemporary world, with the inception of digital technologies, and this collage-like aesthetic is of great interest to the work of Maya Escobar, as much as it is to my own. Although, unlike the deceptively referential works of my counter-part, in many of my works, I use and refer to popular media sources and specific Internet sites indirectly and rarely with any superficial visibility. It is with great deliberation and much hypothesizing that I curate my works in the manner in which I do. I intend my works to avoid specificity and leave wide-open their readings to a much more self-guided analysis by viewers. In the piece “Look Out,” the projected video came directly from YouTube. I simply cut off the last second of the original video, thus shortening it to 17 seconds. I then prepared it as a video-loop for its installation underneath a staircase at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. Because of its placement, where it fills a theretofore, unaddressed space, it is as though the rolling image is part of the museum structure itself. The particular clip, which I chose after viewing dozens of similarly tagged videos (‘storm,’ ‘tree,’ ‘willow,’ and ‘weeping’), was selected for very specific compositional reasons; reasons which are the very same principles of design taught to anyone working in commercial design or the visual arts: complimentary colors, rule of thirds, dynamic composition and varied textures, to name a few. Because of my focused selection process, this video, although created for very different (and unknown) reasons, still fits very well into the installation space as a deliberately designed, and potentially permanent use of what is otherwise a neglected space. The video became part of the stairwell. By existing within a predetermined, architectural frame, it became part of the space, as opposed to sitting on the surface as a painting does. This projection did not exist in the way that many (most) installations do: as obvious alterations or obtrusive interjections into a space. This work asserts itself as a physical part of the space, as the projector beams through from behind the scrim in the stairwell. It also assumes a living presence, as it reiterates itself, by many reflections and refractions, split and scattered, bouncing around the main hall of the museum. The video functioned as a decorative element but also an illusory window to an outside world, whereas, the space without that piece is simply a pane of glass that looks into the shadowy crotch of a stairwell. I do not mean every square inch should be taken up for some sort of visual activity or illusionary window. Simply, this work proposes how our constructed spaces, in this case a venue for art viewing, might be reinterpreted. Insofar as, a corner can conceivably become a window, as illusory and impermanent as my particular interpretation may be.
November 22, 2009 § Leave a Comment
April 30, 2009 § 1 Comment
Jones asks to what extent do we self construct?
I feel like a little kid in a candy store, really, I do.
Here is another Sarah Jones video.
Have I mentioned how amazing I think she is?
April 29, 2009 § 1 Comment
From the Vanessa Hidary the Hebrew Mamita
UPDATE: this post generated these responses
El Rio’s got The Hebrew Mamita’s back in the Bay Area, f’sho!
Hidary’s ability to discuss her Jewish identity and experiences while talkin’ hella mad shit is amazing. She’s a kindred spirit to my Ghetto Frida project. After watching the videos on her youtube page I didn’t hesitate for a minute to head over to the official Hebrew Mamita online store and purchase her CD. She describes the album as “not appropriate for young children but spectacular for adults with flava!” a line I’m kicking myself for not coming up with.
El Rio’s got The Hebrew Mamita’s back in the Bay Area, f’sho!
The YouTube video below is the Puerto Rican Jewess’s riff on “Ga Bless You Ma.” For those of you innocents, this is a common enough phrase slung at female passerby by tigueritos hanging out on the street corners of Washington Heights and other New York City ‘hoods. And just in case you think I can’t spell, there’s nothing religious about the phrase…at least not when you say it like that.
January 9, 2009 § 1 Comment
Athens based artist, Georgia Kotretsos is the editor-in-chief of Boot Print, a contemporary art publication published by Boots Gallery. For the next two weeks Georgia will be the guest blogger on Art 21.
excerpt from her first post
[I] condemn all forms of violence and vandalism and I have been firm on this since the very beginning. Yet in a cloud of ambiguity the media, a political party and many civilians justified the mayhem and fed its appetite. A state of simmering pandemonium stamped this holiday season and with no further delay, a bloody dialogue was set in motion in the early hours of January 5th, 2009. Thirty Kalashnikov shots were fired towards three policemen who were guarding the Ministry of Culture. The gunmen sealed the attack with a grenade. A 21 year-old policeman was wounded and still remains in critical condition.
Both shootings took place in Exarchia, in downtown Athens. When asked about January 5th, a middle-age female resident of the area said with confidence to a news reporter “I heard Kalashnikov shots been fired.” Who can distinguish the type of a gun by its shots in the middle of the night in Athens? The death of the student has sparked the worst riots for decades, which escalated to be a sociopolitical vendetta. Is this a society of an eye for an eye?
Why is this all happening? For way too many reasons that go too far back, but most importantly because the Greek gluttonous government in power since 2004 is digging a hole and inviting us all to jump in. For the last 18 months, new scandals make weekly headlines, there isn’t even enough time to react in between – the lethal combination of a corrupted government and a lethargic Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis, is what we’re left with at a time of severe economic stagnation, a chronic lack of meritocracy, an endless list of social injustices and continuous brutality towards protestors, which in this case were often teenagers, by the state.
How could I ever link this intro to the art postings I’ll upload from Athens for you in the following days? Maybe I can’t and maybe I shouldn’t and for that I have to say this now.
Art may echo this page of Greek contemporary history, but I’m not convinced it’s entirely necessary unless we’re willing to individually evaluate the role of art within the contemporary Greek society and further admit openly the kind of voice it has for each one of us, and then get on with our day. There is life after art and if artists are willing to react, or make a stand, they are not obliged to call it art – an artist is also a citizen. If anybody finds comfort in turning this into some careerist driven niche, I’ll personally stay away. An open dialogue that’s not addressed exclusively to the intellectual elite can be an initial answer to our racing thoughts[...]
June 19, 2008 § Leave a Comment
Eleanor Dubinsky is a musician, choreographer, video and visual artist whose performances and installations create the experience of travel and a sense of immersion in the unknown. Eleanor’s work embraces and inspires imagination and explores our connections to our bodies and to one another. She is interested in expanding who gets to participate in art-making and wants to engage audience members in a sense of wonder, questioning and creativity about their everyday lives. To this end, she rehearses, installs and performs her pieces in public spaces such as train and subway stations, parks and storefront windows. Eleanor’s artistic roots are in music, beginning with classical cello at the age of three. Based in New York since 1999, she has performed and created in France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Argentina and throughout the United States.
be sure check out her myspace page to hear her awesome music…
Get on the Guagua
Eleanor’s pieces Fast Body (2007) and Get on the Guagua: a film about getting on the bus and around in general in Havana, Cuba (2006) were selected for the Danca em Foco International Videodance Showing in 2008, which will take place from August 7-24th at Oi Futuro, Rua Dois de Dezembro, 63/4º andar – Flamengo – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Eleanor will be in Turkey from July 12-29 participating in a week-long intensive workshop in music and dance improvisation with master teachers Julyen Hamilton and Barre Phillips, followed by a week-long performance residency in Cappadocia with the Paris-based dance and music collective Emma Jupe, of which she is a member. They will be developing and performing new work and performing daily for the local residents in public spaces.
March 13, 2008 § Leave a Comment
beauty, brains, talent, wit… she has got it all.
my girl Gina Grafos will be featured on the front cover of zeek magazine’s april additon.
be sure to check her out.
Birth. Soul. Spirit. Death. All cycles of life are overlapped in Gina Grafos‘ life and in work. Raised in a Jewish, evangelical Christian, Greek Orthodox family, Grafos’ perception of belief was left quite askew. Her work now deals with the beliefs of others, with a preference for representations of faith whether relgious or philosophical.
February 28, 2008 § Leave a Comment
I just submitted the work of Michele Feder-Nadoff, to the magazine I work for Zeek. Michele is a dear friend and a phenomenal artist, activist and educator. I thought it would be a good idea to share some information about Michele and to promote her organization the cuentos foundation.
Artistic Director, Michele Feder-Nadoff, who is Jewish, founded Cuentos in 1998 with the humanist vision and commitment to tikkun haolam, a Jewish principal expressing each person’s responsibility to play a part in “healing the world.” Cuentos members believe art is a transformative catalyst for effecting positive social change. Our work combats prejudice and discrimination through artistic and educational intergenerational projects and programs promoting mutual understanding.
The abundance of cultural wealth living doorstep to doorstep in our neighborhoods provide all of us an opportunity to engage with and learn about each others’ backgrounds. What connects us and how can live in peace together, connected by mutual understanding and appreciation of different cultures from around the globe?
check out their new book: Ritmo de Fuego
Ritmo del Fuego / Rhythm of Fire is a unique achievement, telling the story of the deep-seated copperworking tradition of Santa Clara del Cobre, an ancient community in the forested mountains of Michoacán, Mexico. What is often seen as “folk art” is shown to stem from early workshops established in Michoacán during the 8th-9th centuries AD, by coastal traders and artisans from the Andean Region of South America. Since then, the manufactures have included utilitarian and ornamental objects. Many have been recovered at archaeological sites, most notably from the 15th century Tarascan Kingdom. Others embrace forms of Spanish origin after the 16th century conquest. Today in the expanding international market, Santa Clara copperwares include a wide range of sophisticated decorative vases, pitchers, trays, dinner wares and related forms. A vital community has evolved with this ongoing tradition, portrayed with affection and care by the project organizer Michele Feder-Nadoff, and the many other authors in this remarkable, well written contribution to the cultural history of the Americas.
click here to purchase
June 11, 2007 § 1 Comment
Please Check for updates, as I continue to add more to this post.
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.
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.
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.”
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…
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…
April 11, 2007 § 21 Comments
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