Explosion of Latina Bloggers

August 7, 2010 § 4 Comments

LATINAS ARE EVERYWHERE!

click image to watch video on Today Mom’s

Check out interview with Blogueras Carrie Ferguson Weir of TikiTikiBlog.com and Bilingual In The Boonies, Melanie Edwards of ModernMami.com and Ana Flores of SpanglishBaby.com at BlogHer.

And don’t miss post on Wired Latinos on Blogs by Latinas founder Monique Frausto.

Updating About Me

July 27, 2010 § 1 Comment

Maya Escobar is a conceptual identity artist.

Maya Escobar is a conceptual identity artist

deconstructing the artist (myself), alongside the monument, alongside the monument’s informational text…

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SELECTED STATEMENTS

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Bio for About Page 2010:

Maya Escobar is a performance artist, Internet curator, and editor. She uses the web as a platform for engaging in critical community dialogues that concern processes by which identities are socially and culturally constructed. She performs multiple identities, sampling widely from online representations of existing cultural discourses. Her identifications as a Latina-Jewish artist, dyslexic blogger, activist and educator are indexed by the blogs she keeps, the visual and textual links she posts, the books, articles, and blog posts she cites, the public comments she leaves, and the groups she joins.

Escobar received her MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis, and her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited work in Spain, Guatemala, United States, Germany, Venezuela, and Chile.

Twitter Bio for @Maya_Ate_This 2010:

I am a 2nd generation Latina artist, nutrition buff, and fitness enthusiast. Here, I’ll be tweeting what I am eating as well as sharing beauty and fitness tips.

Artista Disléxica Del Internet pt 1 of audition video for Reality TV Show on Discovery En Español 2010:

Short Bio for Acciones Plásticasプリクラ 2009:

Maya Escobar is a Guatemalan-Jewish digital media and performance artist, currently living in St. Louis. Her work addresses issues of cultural hybridity, gender, placelessness, and the construction of identity.

Bio for Conney Conference on Jewish Identity 2009:

Maya Escobar is a Guatemalan Jewish digital media and performance artist. She received a BFA with an emphasis in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently completing her MFA at Washington University in St. Louis. She can usually be found on the web blogging, tweeting, or youtubing. Escobar also serves as the online art editor for Zeek: A Journal of Jewish Thought and Culture. She has taught, performed and exhibited work in Germany, Spain, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and the United States.

About Me for Maya E. on Jewish Wedding Network (2009):

I have always lived between multiple worlds, I come from a Guatemalan Jewish American family of activists and educators. The planning of my wedding is like most things other things we do, a familiar and communal affair. In addition to the Bosa Nova band that will perform, my fiancee’s band rock band Cavalry will be covering various Jewish tunes such as hava negilah and more.

Breaking Down the Elephant Blog Post 2009:

Some people think that I am the true representation of the elephant.
It is true I am an elephant, but not the only elephant.
I try to break up the conception of being the only elephant.
Some people see a small portion of my work and think it is the whole- the representative elephant.
Others understand that each piece connects to another piece and that individually they are only fragments.
When breaking the elephant up into pieces, information slips in through the cracks.
People also respond to this new information- creating a bigger more amorphous elephant.
The amorphous elephant is broken up again and again, so that it is relevant to new individuals new experiences…

Manifesto for MFA Thesis Exhibition Catalog 2009:

As an artist and an individual, I am in constant conversation with the values transposed through multiculturalism. I seek to challenge notions of sameness, unity, and political correctness with pieces that affirm a sense of community for some, while paradoxically alienating others.

Major influxes in international travel, technological advances, immigration, adoption, and intermarriage are causing the borders and boundaries between countries to merge together at an increasingly rapid pace. The imagined spaces of individual cultures are no longer autonomous.

Therefore it is with a conscious move that I, and many colleagues and contemporaries, unapologetically go forward, breaking through traditional conceptions of art and artistic practice. No longer tied down to medium-specific practices, we produce work derivative of a multitude of discourses. The works that we produce, however, are distinct from those in the  fields that our work represents. We are concerned with the past, but we will not allow the past  to solely delineate the future. We hope to form a new definition of artistic practice that will include our constantly shifting environment.

Short Web Bio for Stumble Upon 2008:

MFA Candidate at Washington University in St. Louis. Current art/research centers around mental constructions of space and the social and political implications that result from these imagined boundaries. On this blog I share my random thoughts on hybridity, transnational and transcultural identities, liberal multiculturalism, critical pedagogy, feminist theory, latinidad, jewish life in america, youth culture…

Bio for Acciones Plásticas at the Bruno David Gallery 2007:

Maya Escobar is a Guatemalan Jewish interdisciplinary artist and educator. She is a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received a BFA with an emphasis in Art Education. She has taught, performed and exhibited work in Spain, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and the United States.  Currently, Escobar is pursuing a MFA in Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.

Bio for Camp JRF 2007:

Maya Escobar is a Guatemalan Jewish interdisciplinary artist and educator. She is currently completing her degree in Art Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Sharing her non-traditional approach to exploring Jewish identity, Maya will expose campers to a wide variety of contemporary artists, artistic mediums and processes. Campers will have the opportunity to work both independently and as a collective, to produce work that inspires and participates in ongoing personal and communal dialogue.

Artist Statement 2006:

Through the performance of actual and fictitious moments of my life, I explore my personal identity as the daughter of a Guatemalan father and Jewish mother.  I compare the complexities of projected societal, cultural, and gender-determined roles to the lived experiences of Latina and Jewish women in our contemporary American culture. My work translates ongoing anthropological and sociological investigation into accessible narrative forms, incorporating technical skills in multiple mediums. As a commentary to the objectification and exoticization of otherness that I have personally experienced, I reclaim ownership of myself; I transform my body as well my “self” into an object used within the performed ritual, which is then documented through analog and digital photo, video and collage.

el es frida kahlo at the gallery

February 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

el es frida kahlo is currently on view in the New Media Room at the Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis, MO.

el es frida kahlo

el es frida kahlo, 2007-present

Frida Kahlo played with the identity that she wanted to project and the identity that was placed on her by others. Kahlo used her clothing, political affiliations, sexual escapades, and personal traumas, to create a character that informed her body of work. She inscribed her identity, painting her image over and over, constructing a mythology around her persona.

In el es frida kahlo I confront the ambivalence I experience as a result of my simultaneous obsession with Frida Kahlo and weariness towards her commodification. Viewed from a tiny pinhole, dressed as Kahlo, I stand before a reproduction of one of her self portraits. With a mixture of rage, anxiety, and complete fear, I chant “el es Frida Kahlo, ella es Frida Kahlo, el es Frida Kahlo, yo soy, yo soy, yo soy Frida Kahlo,” he is Frida Kahlo, she is Frida Kahlo, I am, I am, I am Frida Kahlo. As I yell, the painting behind me begins to fall. I violently tear down my braids and smudge off my makeup while continuing to scream “I am Frida Kahlo, I am Frida Kahlo, yo soy Frida Kahlo!”

el es frida kahlo at the Bruno David Gallery (video filmed and edited by Felicia Chen)

el es frida kahlo YouTube video

FREE el es frida kahlo animated gif avaliable on MayaEscobar.com

link to translation of recent review by David Sperber in Ma’arav Israeli Arts and Culture Magazine:

Frida Kahlo at the synagogue: Maya Escobar and the young Jewish-American Creation

Latina Women Respond

February 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

Recently Latina Role Model was featured on TikiTiki Blog: stories with cultura, color and sabor, in a post by Carrie Ferguson Weir called Smart Latina vs. Sexy Latina.  Carrie asked readers:

So, has your Smart Latina run up against the Sexy Latina? What do you see when you watch Maya’s video? What does it bring up for you? Why can’t we be both Smart and Sexy? Let’s talk about this, break it down, maybe shatter some stereotypes, and bust our own too.

Check out the PROFOUND difference in the nature of the comments left on this post (comments posted below) vs the ones left on YouTube.

my contribution to post on Tiki Tiki:

I perform over-the-top representations of different identities. I group together these representations (characters) as a means of challenging limited perspectives of what women are like, and in this case, what Latina women are like.

This character is supposed to be an intellectual, accomplished, socially conscious woman- who will forever be seen as the “Sexy Latina.” The low quality video blog is meant to mock scenes in movies, where the hot high school teacher walks down the hall and all the boys undress her in their minds.

But I am not taking a negative or positive stance either. I want to question the role Latinas play in perpetuating this persona, and question if that is even a bad thing? Are we limiting ourselves by continuing to have this same conversation, even though the behavior persists, are we enforcing it by bring more attention to it?

I haven’t always been so impartial. Out of all of the characters in Acciones Plásticas, The Latina Role Model is the one I identified with the most.  My original description of the way this character was perceived by others was much more reactionary and much angrier than it is now. (see below)

The Sexy Latina© from Acciones Plásticas free (stereotype) postcard, 2007

The Sexy Latina© is an educated woman who cares about important social and political issues. She wears suggestive provocative clothing to compensate for giving up her role as a homemaker. She uses her sexuality to obtain positions in the work world.


Latina Role Model from Acciones Plásticas プリクラ 2009

Over the last two years this character has really evolved. Here is the new description of The Latina Role Model, re-imagined as part of my Acciones Plásticas プリクラ collaboration with artist Rio Yañez:

The Latina Role Model is a diploma totin’ intellectual, sexy, social media goddess.

What do you think?  How does the earlier description of The Sexy Latina© differ from this new description of The Latina Role Model?  How do these two images relate to the Latina Role Model YouTube video?

  • This is an excellent post and an excellent video. It really does make you think.

    I am really not qualified to speak from a “Latina perspective” on this topic because I am Anglo. (If you read my blog, you’ll know I’m Sra. López only because I married a Salvadoran.)

    That being the case, I can’t speak from personal experience on Latina stereotypes, but I would like to contribute an opinion or two on topics that are pretty closely related.

    For example, it really bothers me that the Latinas picked as reporters and journalists on Univision and Telemundo seem to be more for the purposes of eye candy than to report the news and add intelligent commentary — not that they aren’t intelligent women, but I think the sexism by the head honchos over there is pretty evident, not just on the news, but on other programming as well… And English language channels aren’t always much better. I think Western women in general – no matter what their race, fight very hard to overcome the sense that we are valued more as objects of sex/beauty, than for what’s inside.

    It’s very frustrating and I don’t envy the difficult job many women have of raising daughters in this world. (I have 2 sons) … With my own self esteem issues, I can’t imagine what a challenge it would be to raise a girl who is confident in herself and who doesn’t let Hollywood, fashion magazines, men, or even other females, get her down.

    I don’t know the solution to achieving true equality, but I think talking about it all is a good start.

  • Very interesting…The role model I immediately identified with was the socially-conscious, smart role model, which made me realize how loaded that role is. Being an accomplished and educated Latina comes with so many expectations — the whole giving back to the community, serving your community, being a role model and mentor for others, etc. — that’s not something that an accomplished non-Latina woman has to worry about (or feel committed to).

    With regards to the sexy role model — I always say that there is no sexier woman than the one that exudes confidence in herself and who she is — the sexy clothes are just extras…

    Great conversation…

  • [...] Tiki Tiki: Stories with Cultura, Color and Sabor, thanks to post by Carrie Ferguson Weir entitled  Smart Latina vs Sexy Latina. Check out the post and be sure to leave your [...]

  • Ana Lilian says:

    I guess I just never even thought of myself as the Sexy Latina…but a cute one yes! LOL! But once I´m on the dance floor, then the sexy comes out and it´s all good.

    But,seriously, I guess I just lack the perceived-Latina sassy-ness as I´ve never felt that bias towards me.
    I will definitely agree with dear Sra. López that the media, especially the Hispanic media, is completely promoting the hot Latina stereotype, and not much of the smart Latina one. Why do their “news” anchors feel they need to have their breast augmented to be taken seriously?

  • Kikita says:

    I think it is inherent in our culture to be “hot” in every sense of the word because we are so passionate.

    I love what Maya was trying to accomplish and say with her video, but I found that she couldn’t hide or deny her Latin sensuality even when she was trying to play the part of an “intellectual, accomplished, socially conscious woman.”

    This DID make me stop and think, but what I realized is that I tend to shoot for a 3rd type. I go for “Classy Latina.” You know, the one that can wear the big hoops and sexy top with a pant suit. Someone like Ingrid Hoffman or Karla Martinez.

  • C. Morales says:

    My impression is that Latina women play into the stereotype because Latino men often expect them to, and they are threatened by a smart woman. It is not just non-Latino men who expect a mujer caliente and nothing more.

  • Liz says:

    How you project yourself, depends on you, no matter what. I, like Ana, never felt that I was looked at differently because I am Latina. I don’t see my self as a Sexy, Hot, Latina(I hope my husband does, though). Hell, I’m 33, been married for 12 years, and have 3 kids. I don’t get “chifles” anymore… ): LOL!

    This is directed towards the younger, single generation. How they present themselves as the future “Latina Generation”, depends on how they are raised. It’s up to us, as moms, to teach our daughters to go and be the BEST they can be. It’s up to me to raise my daughter to know what it right from wrong. Do guys really still think that girls are still destined to be “home/baby makers? Really??

    Forget Hollywood. Forget the Media. Heck, forget the evening news. If those ladies felt that they need to have their lady lumps hanging out in order to get the job, then I feel sorry for them. But, it is what it is.

    I will raise my daughter to know that education is the key to being classy and sexy! Not exposed Humps and Lady Lumps! Also, I will raise my boys to see women and they see themselves. Whether they marry a Latina or not.

    Ay, me pase de mas! he he!

  • SUZ says:

    A smart and fun video commentary on the stereotypes of women in general…the educated intellectual, the hot babe, the innocent women. I like that Maya uses humor to deflect the extremes. Also that she creates a fine line between integrating the different role types. This is interesting because everyone is never just one thing…but we may choose to identify one way.

  • I think it’s part of a male dominated culture. Many women have this problem of having to manage male expectations in their professional lives, whether it is living with objectification or men projecting their need for nurturing from any woman they meet. I’ve had jobs where men thought it was okay to flirt with me and expected me to fulfill some messed up hot secretary fantasy, and I’ve had jobs where men I worked with expected me to be maternal and when I was driven, I was labeled aggressive. I’m not a dog, I’m not a hooker, and I’m definitely not your mother, guys.

    I think we have to teach men when they’re children that women can fill many roles and to expect them to be as capable and androgynous as any man performing the same duties. By the same token, I don’t know how I feel about using gender or sexuality as an asset to get ahead, my feeling is that anything you do that is manipulative in nature, is skirting unethical, if not flat out crossing the line.

    Having a sense of humor about stereotypes though, I don’t know if I see a problem as long as you don’t go too far and reinforce them. If it’s clear it’s a joke and part of the joke is how ridiculous stereotypical behavior really is…

  • Carrie says:

    I love the feedback, ladies. All great points and fabulous reflection.

    I am left wondering this, after reading Ana and Liz’s comments: Is stereotype/perception felt/seen at a greater level when we don’t live in predominately Latino communities?

    This comes to mind because your comments made me realize I never thought too much of my Latina side and my American side until I lived in cities where there weren’t a bunch of Cubans running around me everywhere. My otherness was apparent and pointed out. It was almost like, wow, I am different?

    Interesting!

  • Marta says:

    I don’t fit into the Sexy or Brainy Latina mold at all. Probably because I look very Anglo – light skin, blue eyes. I blend pretty seamlessly into my So Cal suburban life.

    Except for the Latina “chispa.” That’s always the big giveaway right there. =D

  • Liz says:

    Carrie,

    I emailed your post to my niece, whose studying at Penn State, this is what she had to say:

    Well, I agree with her lol. A lot of people especially here in Pennsylvania, see me as exotic because I’m Hispanic. They expect me to speak Spanish all of the time and a lot of them expect me to be kinda stupid and slutty. But when people get to know me, they find out that I’m extremely smart. Smarter than most people they encounter. And it sucks because I’m always having to prove myself to people and to teachers. But in the end, I’m the one that’s dropping jaws for my intellect and not for my attractiveness =)

    The end haha. Hope that helps.

    I am one PROUD Tia!!! (:

  • Carrie says:

    Liz, aha! Thank you for sending the post to your niece and validating my theory. I love how your niece wrote to you and the “stupid and slutty” line made me bust out laughing — especially because she obviously is not.

    Gracias, proud Tia!

    (Maybe she needs to write for the Tiki Tiki? hmmmm?)

  • Veronica says:

    Great video and excellent points.

    I think that this expectation for Latinas to appear sexy is one reason why I reject the hot mom movement. I wish there was just as much social pressure to be smart Latinas, smart moms, smart women as there is to be hot, sexy, etc.

Latina Role Model on Tiki Tiki

January 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Latina Role Model is on Tiki Tiki: Stories with Cultura, Color and Sabor, thanks to post by Carrie Ferguson Weir entitled  Smart Latina vs Sexy Latina. Check out the post and be sure to leave your responses!

Latina Role Model on Tiki Tiki

free el es frida kahlo animated gif

January 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

el es frida kahlo will be on view at the Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis, MO from 1/22-3/6. In conjunction with the exhibition, I am offering a FREE embeddable animated el es frida kahlo gif on mayaescobar.com.

el es frida digital giveaway

behind the scenes acciones plásticas purikura

January 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

The Latina HipsterThe Latina Role ModelThe Homegirl

Here are some behind the scenes images from the many Acciones Plásticas プリクラ photo shoots.

The Latina Hipster  (performance still)

The Latina Hipster

The Homegirl  (performance still)

The Homegirl

Becoming The Homegirl (performance still)

The Homegirl putting on fake nails (lovin’ the shabbos candlesticks and theory books in the background)

The Avodah Girl (performance still)

The Avodah Girl

The 612er  (performance still)

The 612er

———————————————————

Check out this inspiring write-up on Acciones Plásticas プリクラ on Truth and Healing Project.

excerpt below:

goodness.   I’ve been thinking a lot about the intersections between new media and traditional forms of knowledge and how these intersections can be ways of supporting tradition, innovation, resistance and liberation.  As a media-maker, I’ve thought a lot about non-traditional forms of telling stories and the value of stories to allow us as individuals and communities  to grow and remain in movement.  I want to both  honor our traditions and create space for challenge in order to support growth.   This is particularly challenging when, as indigenos, we are usually FORCED  into the frozen stance (as my sister Whisper says)  of the “American Imaginary”.    Born out of a flat analysis, the “American Imaginary”  boxes us into specific archetypes and narratives that,  though perhaps grounded in truth,  metaphorically and at times literally  “freeze” us and immobilize us from engaging in healthy movement and LIFE.  As a guatemalan-born/ mixed -id’d/ mayan-adoptee I’ve  dreamed about new and innovative ways to create forums and craft form that embodies the intersections of say,  mayan id, transracial queer, working class, single teen mama id.   For example, as a queerasfuck femme I’ve LITERALLY dreamed of beginning a series of corsets created out of huipil’s with stories attached to each… though I have yet to begin work on that.  I am so excited by the thoughts of spaces for dialogue, beauty, challenge & examination of the COMPLEX identities embodies by the our contemporary indigena communities. .  Fierce and phenomenal chicana and radical latina artists  have had HUGE impacts on me but I’ve been hungry to see this come from other guatemelan/ mayan artists.  Today, I got a taste of a  contemporary and GUATEMALAN artist who is  actively engaged in a similar examination!  I came across this blog (and art work)  and it was as if an answer was given to me in the form of possibilities.  A sweet affirmation that this form of mayan/guatemalan  art CAN and DOES exist.

acciones plásticas goes プリクラ chicano style

November 1, 2009 § 4 Comments

Acciones Plásticas プリクラ

Acciones Plásticas プリクラ is a collaboration between artists Maya Escobar and Rio Yañez.

The Latina Hipster
a bad-ass Morrissey-lovin’, tuff-girl sexy chica


The Latina Role Model
a diploma totin’ intellectual, sexy, social media goddess


The Homegirl
a hybridized version of Escobar’s Midwestern Chach and Yañez’s West Coast Chola.

In Acciones Plásticas Escobar created a multi-faceted “doll” by assuming the role of designer and distributor, and even posing as the actual doll itself.  Each doll was a satirical characterization of some of the many roles that have been projected upon her, and into which she has, at points, inevitably fallen. In conjunction with these images, she developed a short series of low-definition youtube video blogs through which she inhabits the lives of “real women” who have each been visibly defined by societal constructs.

Recently, Yañez has been utilizing Japanese photobooths (known as Purikura or “print-club”) as an artist’s tool for creating portraits. These booths are much more common in Japan than their United States counterparts. As a catalyst for creative expression and social interaction they are used primarily by young urban Japanese girls. A standard feature in all Purikura booths allows the user to digitally decorate their portraits after they take them. The options are vast and include wild characters, excessive starbursts of light, pre-made phrases and the option to draw your own text directly on the image. Purikura gives the subjects near-divine powers of self-expression in crafting their own portraits.

The two artists who met over the web, decided to bring together Escobar’s highly charged and evocative Acciones Plásticas characters with Yanez’s notorious Chicano graphic-art style and new found obsession with Purikura images, as a way of addressing the construction of Latina identities.

Maya posed as The Latina Hipster: a bad-ass Morrissey-lovin’, tuff-girl sexy chica; The Latina Role Model: a diploma totin’ intellectual, sexy, social media goddess; and finally, The Homegirl: a hybridized version of Escobar’s Midwestern Chach (or Chachi Mama) and Yañez’s West Coast Chola.

Maya sent digital images to Rio, who in turn drew portraits of her as each of these constructed identities. He approached each portrait with a Purikura sensibility and decorated them each as the characters represented might accessorize themselves.

The final series of portraits is the result of negotiating multiple identities and influences. Guatemalan, Jewish, and Chicano sensibilities reflected back through a Japanese Purikura aesthetic. Acciones Plásticas プリクラ challenge and question the thin line between archetype and stereotype. The Purikura elements present the novel signifiers of each social construct represented in the series.

This collaboration is the first of many to come as Maya and Rio explore the commonalities and differences of their cultural identities.

For more information on Acciones Plásticas プリクラcheck out Rio’s blog and stay tuned for guest post by seeNoga aka Carianne Noga on meeting the Chach Homegirl in real life.

(video of the Chach featured below)

Interview on Blogadera

September 15, 2009 § 2 Comments

I was interviewed on the Latino Blog Directory site Blogadera

click here for full interview:

Here we are with Maya Escobar. An artist and educator whose art, personality and opinions come to life by way of her blog and social media extensions.  We are thrilled to have her on to talk about her background, blogging and sharing her blogging experience with the rest of the blogadera.

When did you start blogging? What prompted you to pick it up.

I started blogging in 2005, at the time I was completing my degree in art education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  I was interested in connecting with other artists, activists, students and educators to share ideas and resources.

What do you blog about? Why?

I blog about issues that relate to the artworks I am producing (basically concepts I am thinking about). Topics include: the construction of identity, hybridity, sexuality, education, placelessness, immigration, activism, religion, and mental health.

Can you give us a little bit of background on Maya Escobar?

Well… it just so happens that I just posted a new “about me” to my website:

I am a performance artist, Internet curator, and editor. I use the web as a platform for engaging in critical community dialogues that concern processes by which identities are socially and culturally constructed. I perform multiple identities and sample widely from online representations and existing cultural discourses. My identifications as a Latina-Jewish artist, dyslexic blogger, activist and educator are indexed by the blogs I keep, the visual and textual links I post, the books, articles, and blog posts I cite, the public comments I leave, and the groups I join.

By examining and re-imagining my personal experiences, I attempt to provide others with a framework for questioning societal limitations based on gendered and racialized cultural generalizations.

(if you found that about me too dull there is a post on my blog where I describe myself as an elephant)

Does your blog reflect your culture? Is this intentional or just a natural byproduct?

I hope that my blog reflects a culture of critical inquiry, communal dialogue, and collaboration. (this would be intentional)

What is the state of the Latino Blogosphere? Do you see it growing? Any Examples?

I see more and more Latina and Latino bloggers every day.  But what I find most exciting is when those bloggers are young people and they are blogging with a positive message.  A wonderful example that I have found is MyLatinitas.com the social networking platform hosted by Latinitas Magazine. Here young Latinas are actively sharing their thoughts on politics, culture, education, and family.

You work alot with videos…do you consider yourself a vlogger? If so, can you define that for us!

hmm… I am not really sure if I consider myself to be a vlogger.  When I think of a vlogger, I think of a person who makes videos that contain similar content to content that would be included in a blog post (such as current events, politics, or personal observations.) Maybe, I am a part time vlogger

Any advice for Latinos who want to start blogging?

I think it is important to get a sense of why it is that you want to blog, what will your blog say about you, and how you envision your blog interacting with your personal and professional life.

Write about issues that you are passionate about, in a way that other people can relate to.  Use the Internet for all it can do- link between your own posts and link to posts written by others.  Read other people’s blogs and comment!  If you want people to be interested in the things you are writing about know what they are writing about!

And most importantly when you can, blog in Spanish!

What blogs do you follow or subscribe to? Favorites?

I just started reading VivirLatino which led me to the awesome blog of La Mamita Mala. I have been following Latina Lista for sometime, Rio Yañez and his buddy Maya ChinchillaSergio AntonioJorge Linares…… the list just keeps on growing…

What are you favorite social media sites and how do you use these tools in your day-to-day?

At this point twitter, youtube, flickr and wordpress are the sites that I most commonly use. My activity on all of theses sites crosses over.  For example, I might write a post on my blog, that will include a youtube video and images I posted onto flickr.  Then I send a tweet that includes either a segment of my blog post, an image from the post, or some of the tag words describing the post.

Do you divide social media by purpose, friends, professional v. personal, etc.?

Not really, for the most part my personal life is my professional life.

What’s next for Maya? What do we have to look forward to from you?

I am working with my father on developing my first performance piece entirely in Spanish. We are using a recording of an interview my mother conducted with my abuelita in 1985, as source material for the monologue I will be performing recounting her experiences, but as myself- two generations removed……

I am also planning a piece with fellow artist and blogger Rio Yañez surrounding the Wise Latina phenomenon.  I don’’t want to give too many details away, but I can promise there is going to be a Top 10 list!

wise latina on Twitpic

[more]

check out other Blogadera interviews with Carrie Fergerson and Jo Ann Hernandez

take a picture of me for my myspace

May 11, 2009 § 2 Comments

In October of 2006 my rabbi started blogging. While trying to comment on one of his posts, I accidentally registered my own blog. Within hours of posting a comment, my name began appearing in Google searches. I was now linked to the post I had commented on, previous posts my rabbi had written, comments left by other users and the posts they had written elsewhere within the blogosphere. The rapidity with which I was branded, not only by my own online activity, but also by the online activity of others, seemed incomprehensible.

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/140/407330068_cef67d7d48.jpg?v=0

I thought about this phenomenon in relationship to, the images that my friends and I had posted on Myspace throughout that year. I unknowingly went from being slightly annoyed and simultaneously amused by the phrase “take a picture of me for my Myspace”, to it becoming completely natural and almost organic to document every moment, every outing, every time my friends and I put on make up, and to take pictures for Myspace. I saw this behavior even further exaggerated in the high school students I was student teaching. Their conversations were dominated with events that had transpired on Myspace, and when they were not talking about Myspace they were taking pictures for Myspace.

When we talked about the factors that contributed to the construction of their individual and collective identities, my students were quick to bring up their style of dress, group of friends, the neighborhood they lived in, and the way they spoke. Yet not a single student referenced their online activity, the pictures they posted, the groups they joined, the comments they left on each others pages. I wondered why it was, that they were so aware of and adept at reflecting upon their experiences in the material offline world, but failed to mention the social network that played such a major role in their day-to-day lives.

DECONSTRUCTING PERSONAL IDENTITY

the chach

(today) I am referring to myself as a performance artist, Internet curator, and editor.  I create and (concurrently) perform multiple online identities, by sampling from different representations of existing cultural discourses. I fragment my personal experiences and invite  others to join in, and modify and regroup those fragments. By doing this I hope to share the process through which I  deconstruct and reconstruct my individual conception of self, so that others can do the same in their lives.

In the series Acciones Plásticas I performed representations of five constructed characters: a religious Jewish woman, a spoiled Jewish girl, a ghetto Latina, a sexy Latina professor, and a Mayan woman. I created low quality YouTube video blogs for four of the characters, the Mayan woman did not have a video, as she would not have had access to YouTube technologies. The videos were strategically placed on popular social networking sites, including YouTube and MySpace. The layout of YouTube contextualized the videos and framed them with user comments and similarly tagged user content. Jewish Girls was picked up by a popular left-wing Jewish blogging site Jewschool, and soon entered the Jewish Blogosphere where it was referred to as the JAP. This repositioning shifted the focus from the portrayal of multiple interwoven identities to a depiction of the Jewish American Princess. The JAP became how people knew my work, validating me while simultaneously conflating my identity with that of this particular character.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3362/3521552366_98c65eccfe.jpg?v=0

One of the strategies that I employed to counteract idea of “me as The JAP was to group videos from the series  Acciones Plásticas together with three other Youtube videos in a video reel of my work. The first video in the reel,  el es frida kahlo is me dressed as Frida Kahlo where I violently scream I am Frida Kahlo! In second video Be Wife, I wear a bright red bikini top in front of an image of a Mayan temple in Tikal. Traditional Guatemalan marimba music plays in the background, while red text scrolls across the top reading Guatemala’s finest export. The third video Que Sencilla, features me as a little girl, who is being coaxed by an off-camera male voice to perform a dance for the camera.

Someone who is expecting to see a Jewish American Princess, is instead greeted with an enragedel es frida kahlo Latina artist, trying to fight the stigma of being associated with Frida Kahlo. My inclusion of these additional videos was to show the multidimensionality of the five characters initially presented in Acciones Plásticas. The Mayan women does not have her own YouTube video, but with the addition of the Be Wife video, her absence is felt even greater. The face of Guatemala in these videos, is the chest of a mail order bride. Another example can be seen within the four original videos themselves. With the grouping of the ghetto latina with the sexy latina professor, vast cultural and class difference can be seen between the two representations of Latina women. Put together with el es frida kahlo and Be Wife, there are suddenly five Latina performers all acting on one stage.

Artista disléxica del Internet

April 21, 2009 § 1 Comment

Por David Sperber en Ma’arav Israeli Arts and Culture Magazine
Traducción de Gonzalo Escobar (de Traducción de Shlomit Nehorai)

Maya Escobar es sin ninguna duda una de las personas más de moda en el desarrollo del arte judío-estadounidense. Escobar se define como “artista disléxica del Internet”. Y para ver su trabajo uno no necesita ir muy lejos.

Su trabajo es creado principalmente en el formato familiar del Internet, y se puede ver más frecuentemente en Youtube. Escobar es hija de madre Judía y de padre Guatemalteco, ella define su trabajo personal y versátil de arte como una investigación antropológica-sociológica dentro de la narrativa que utiliza medios electrónicos contemporáneos.

Acciones Plásticas incluye películas de corto metraje que presentan una serie de caracteres persuasivos y monólogos en los que se cuestiona la identidad. En la primera película de corto metraje de la serie aparece, vestida como la artista mexicana Frida Kahlo quien se convirtió en un ícono dentro del discurso feminista. Se argumenta comúnmente que Kahlo tenía algunas raíces judías. Escobar aparece vestida como Kahlo con sus famosas cejas mientras que grita “Yo soy Frida Kahlo.  Usted es Frida Kahlo.  Nosotros somos Frida Kahlo”. En agitación o en éxtasis se desgarra su ropa, se despeina, se quita el maquillaje y vuelve a ser ella misma.

el es frida kahlo

En la otra película de corto metraje de la serie, ella continúa con un monólogo de una mujer ortodoxa judía. El texto aquí es tan exacto que por un minuto la línea entre la ironía y la comedia burda y la seriedad profunda es borrosa.

En otra película de corto metraje se presenta  el estereotipo de mujer latina como objeto sensual sexual, cuando aquí el tema se desenvuelve también entre la aprobación y la destrucción de los estereotipos. Escobar presenta diversos episodios basados en la realidad que ella misma ha experimentado enfocados en su identidad híbrida como mujer, como judía y como latinoamericana.

Otro trabajo de Escobar es  My Shtreimel (Mi sombrero de peluche judío de Europa Oriental) – un vídeo-blog que también se puede encontrar en Youtube. En esta sección aparece un joven de más de veinte años que está sentado frente a una  computadora y habla de sus rituales del Shabbat (el día de descanso para los judíos). El monólogo describe un mundo judío amorfo en el cual la esencia judía viva y material no es obligatoria a sus instituciones, sobre todo en el marco personal. Una parte central en este mundo es la auto depreciación de uno mismo: El joven muestra su querido shtreimel y menciona que el shtreimel que se ve como el sombrero tradicional es realmente un sombrero de mujer comprado en una tienda de segunda.

berlin's eruv

En el trabajo “eruv”*  (entremezclarse)  Escobar relata el hecho que en Berlín no hay ningún eruv aun cuando allí existe una comunidad judía vibrante. En una serie de entrevistas fotografiadas con los habitantes de la ciudad ella transforma la noción del eruv – en una noción legal halajá (recopilación de las principales leyes judías) que crea una transformación del espacio público en el espacio privado, en una mezcla – la creación múltiple de caracteres y de mundos. El eruv se transforma en un concepto cultural que celebra lo diferente y lo único. Los individuos crean un mosaico espléndido que ensambla un grupo “colectivo” diferente como concepto social. La forma en que Escobar trata el tema es típico al mundo judío-estadounidense del arte que tiende a transferir los conceptos del halajá práctico y para transferirlo a otro mundo, y así se transforma en una metáfora de la condición personal o social. La experiencia personal es significativa a Escobar.  Como otros rituales judíos, el Shabbat abarca los sentidos prácticos que materializan la condición privada en un espacio privado. Excepto que el entendimiento del espacio privado y del espacio público es fluido y cambia siempre. Yo pienso que es muy importante de que la gente celebre su Shabbat como experiencia agradable, definida y personal. Los rituales del Shabbat evolucionan con el tiempo – no como obligación inamovible que se transfiere de generación en generación, pero como resultado de una opción simple del individuo de crear él/ella las mismas costumbres agradables de Shabbat. Todos tenemos esta clase de costumbres.”

El uso intercontinental del Internet dio a luz a una generación de individuos que crean algo solo por el hecho de crear algo, y el concepto del crear arte por el hecho del crear arte consigue de esa manera un nuevo significado. Los medios de comunicación del Internet conectan a individuos y contribuyen mutuamente a entrelazar a la gente que trabaja por separado en lugares lejanos. El trabajo nuevo del Internet desafía las viejas definiciones en lo referente a lo qué se considera arte y a lo que no es. De igual manera, adopta nuevas formas de la presentación que no son la norma en la corriente principal del mundo del arte, y le revigoriza al campo del arte.

La discusión del trabajo de Escobar conduce a una discusión más amplia sobre las diferencias entre el pensamiento judío en la conversación israelita en la nueva comprensión de la opinión estadounidense del mundo. El compromiso judío-artístico en los Estados Unidos está influenciado por la introducción de las ideas de la nueva era en el centro de la conversación, y está integrando en el esfuerzo de crear una conexión entre la cultura contemporánea y la identidad judía tradicional. Dentro de la comunidad estadounidense-judía hay muestras de un movimiento de una expresión judía institucional organizada en una expresión única y personal de  experiencias muy personales. Estos artistas que reorganizan las tradiciones en sus propios términos, y de esta manera contribuye no insignificantemente a la definición  Ortodoxo-Moderno No-Ortodoxo Judío-Estadounidense nuevamente. El acoplamiento entre la cultura judía y la identidad judía al arte ocupa un papel central en esta conversación.

Los ecos de esta tendencia se pueden encontrar también en Israel (por ejemplo, en la cultura joven de Yiddish {idioma hablado por los judíos de Europa Oriental}  en Tel Aviv), pero generalmente todavía hay una desconexión profunda entre los conceptos dominantes en Israel y en los Estados Unidos. En Israel es común la conexión  entre el judaísmo con una tradición organizada y con el linaje o la línea de sangre y la consanguinidad basada en una continuidad genética. Por otra parte, muchos judío-estadounidenses jóvenes se casan fuera de su religión, pero sin embargo ellos se ven como parte integral del mundo judío y saben que no serán expulsados por esto. En comparación con los israelíes que experimentan su identidad judía en términos de desintegración que siguió la restauración, los judío-estadounidenses crean  nuevas ramas donde las metáforas del crecimiento y del renacimiento se acoplan mejor.

La unión de la cultura y del arte contemporáneos a la creatividad judía se expresa en características de moda como tatuajes, música hip-hop, arte del Internet y otras formas similares, y se entiende a menudo como la desconexión con la dicotomía dualista aceptada entre lo sagrado y lo mundano. Esto es porqué los tradicionalistas consideran estas formas de arte como provocación peligrosa. La interconexión cultural de estos nuevos conceptos durante discusiones desafiantes con los viejos conceptos culturales. Filológicamente hablando se puede decir que pedir prestados símbolos a partir de una disciplina a otra interfiere con los sistemas semióticos. En el lenguaje Cabalístico (kabbalah o  cábala  es una de las principales corrientes de la mística judía) se dice que la energía creada durante la fricción  producida por la desintegración de las cosas va a crear generalmente “nueva luz”.

* De acuerdo a la religión judía durante el Shabbat lo judíos no pueden hacer ningún trabajo, ni tampoco llevar cosas fuera de sus casas o de las murallas de su ciudad. Cuando la ciudad o pueblo no tiene murallas, se tiene que construir un “eruv”, que es una construcción de cables y postes para así poder marcar los límites físicos del pueblo y esto se convierte en una estructura virtual imaginaria.

Frida Kahlo at the synagogue: Maya Escobar

April 6, 2009 § 6 Comments

Frida Kahlo at the synagogue: Maya Escobar and the young Jewish-American Creation

by David Sperber in Ma’arav Israeli Arts and Culture Magazine.
translation by Shlomit Nehorai

ARTICLE IN SPANISH & HEBREW

Maya Escobar is no doubt one of the ‘hottest’ things developing in the Jewish-American art scene. Escobar defines herself “dyslexic internet artist”. And in order to view her work you need not wander far.

Her work is mostly created in familiar internet format, and is most often displayed on Youtube. Escobar, daughter to a Jewish mother and Guatemalan father, defines her art work as ongoing personal anthropological-sociological research into the narrative language that uses contemporary media.

The “Acciones Plasticas” work includes short films that present a series of convincing characters and monologues that deal with identity questions. In the first short film in the series she appears dressed up as the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo who became an icon within the feminist discourse. it is commonly argued that Kahlo had some Jewish roots. Escobar is dressed and made up as is famously attributed to Kahlo – the uni brow – while screaming “I am Frida Kahlo, you are Frida Kahlo, we are Frida Kahlo”. In agitation or in ecstasy she tears her custom, messes up her hair, wipes her make up off of her face and returns to being herself. In another short film in the series she carries on with a monologue of a jewish orthodox woman. The text here is so exact that for a minute the line between irony and slapstick to deep seriousness is blurred. In another short film the stereotypical Latin female as a sexual sensual object is presented, when here too the subject is moving between embracing the stereotypes and breaking them. Escobar is presenting different episodes that she had experienced herself and that deal with her hybrid identity as a woman, as a Jew and as a Latin American.

Another work of Escobar is  “my shtreimel” – a video-blog that is also presented on Youtube.
In that piece appears a young man in his twentieths who sits in his room in front of a computer and talk about his Shabbat rituals. The monologue describes an amorphous jewish world in which jewishness lives and materializes without obligation to its institutions and mostly in personal frameworks. A central part in this world is self deprecation: The young man shows his beloved shtreimel and mentions that the shtreimel which looks like the traditional  is actually a women’s hat purchased at a thrift store.

names

In the work “eruv”  (intermingling)  Escobar relates to the fact that in Berlin there is no eruv even though there exists a vibrant jewish community. In a series of photographed interviews with the city’s citizens she transforms the notion eruv – from a halachic-legal notion that creates a conversion of the public space into the private space, into a blending – the creation of a multiple of characters and worlds. The blending (eruv)transforms into a cultural concept that celebrates the different and the unique. The individuals create a splendid mosaic that assembles anew the “collective” as a social concept. The way Escobar deals with the subject is typical to the jewish-american art world that tends to transfer concepts from the practical halachic and transfer them to another world, and so they transform into a metaphor of the personal or social condition. The personal experience is significant to Escobar: ” Like other jewish rituals, the Shabbat encompasses practicalities that materialize private condition in a private space. Except that the understanding of the private space and the public space is fluid and changes at all times. I think that it is very important that people celebrate their Shabbat as a pleasant experience, defined and personal. The Shabbat rituals evolve all the time  – not as an unbending obligation that is transferred from generation to generation, but as a result of a simple choice of the individual to create to him/herself nice and pleasant Shabbat customs. We all have these kind of customs.”

The intercontinental use of the Internet gave birth to a generation of individuals who create for creation’s sake, and the concept of art for art’s sake gets that way a new meaning. The Internet media connects individuals and contributes to mutual influences between people who work separately in far away places. The young work on the Internet challenges the old definitions in relation to what is considered art and what isn’t. Similarly, it adopts new presentation forms that are not the norm in the art world’s mainstream, and breathes new air into the art field.

The discussion into Escobar’s work leads into a wider discussion about the differences between the Jewish thinking in the Israeli discourse into the new understanding of the American world view. The Jewish-artistic engagement in the United States is influenced by the introduction of new-age ideas into the center of the conversation, and is integrating into the effort to create a connection between contemporary culture and the traditional Jewish identity. Within the American-Jewish community there are signs of a move from an organized institutional Jewish expression into a unique and personal expression of the very personal experience. These artists reorganizing the traditions on their own terms, and in this way contributing not insignificantly to the definition of Jewish-American Non-Orthodox Modern-orthodox anew. The link between Jewish culture and Jewish identity to art occupies a central role in this conversation.

The echoes of this tendency can be seen in Israel as well ( in the young Yiddish culture developing in Tel Aviv, for instance ), but generally there is still a deep disconnect between the dominant concepts in Israel and in the United States. In Israel it is common to connect between Judaism to an organized tradition and to a blood line that is based on a genetic continuity. On the other hand, many young Jewish-Americans marry outside their religion, but nevertheless see themselves as an integral part of the Jewish world and expect to not be expelled from it. As opposed to Israelis who experience their Jewishness in terms of disintegration that followed restoration, the Jewish-Americans create new branches where growth and rebirth metaphors fit them better.

The joining of contemporary culture and art to Jewish creativity expresses itself in fashionable characteristics like tattoos, hip-hop music, Internet art and the like, and is often understood as the disconnect with the accepted binary dichotomy between holly and the common. That is why conservative bodies see these art forms as a dangerous provocation. These new cultural concepts interconnect during confrontational discussions with the old cultural concepts. Philologically speaking it can be said that borrowing symbols from one discipline to another interferes with the semiotic systems. In the Kabalistic vernacular it is said that the energy that is released during the friction that is created by the disintegration of the usual vessels – creates  “new light”.

video reel

April 14, 2008 § 3 Comments


Cultural Identity Dialog Exchange

November 16, 2007 § 1 Comment

Below are selected excerpts from a grant proposal that I recently submitted to Washington University, for a cultural identity dialog exchange between Guatemalan Youth living within the diaspora and those living in Guatemala.

Please contact me if you are interested in collaborating, participating (either yourself or your child) and funders.

Within most North American contexts I am inevitably the only Guatemalan representative. As a child I yearned for this paternal classification. I wanted desperately to be a Guatemalan. However, upon entering academia I immediately became the Guatemalan. As an artist, this categorization places me in the awkward position of being unable to produce work without feeling and seeming inauthentic, voyeuristic, and exploitative.

In order to directly confront these insecurities and consequential perceptions, I will expose myself to the very environment where I feel most uncomfortable: Guatemala. I will present myself exactly as I do in the United States with the self-imposed title: Guatemalan Jewish Interdisciplinary Artist and Educator. Working as a researcher, artist, educator, student, performer and public speaker I will interact with all of the communities represented by the aforementioned title.

[...]In this lesson, students will critically analyze the ways in which Guatemalans have been depicted both historically and presently. They will look at national and international examples of these depictions, produced by: historians, anthropologists, sociologists, the media, and artists. Considering the mediums that have been utilized in these depictions (newspapers, magazines, history books, movies, paintings, the internet, etc.), and their availability to the general public, students will evaluate the impact of these depictions on the formation of their personal identity.

Students will then discuss their feelings towards Guatemalan youth living in the US, who have inevitably been equally (in not more so) effected by these depictions. They will then analyze the specific elements these depictions falsely portray or leave unsaid, thus identifying the important things they want Guatemalan youth living in the US to know about their culture. [...]

• What role does an individual play in defining their identity?
• How is identity affected by: surrounding community, geographic location, socio-economic background, religious beliefs, political affiliation, gender, sexuality, level of education, access to technology?
• What responsibilities accompany self-imposed cultural allegiance?
• What responsibilities accompany societal-imposed cultural allegiance?

student work from Cuyotenango, Guatemala

nuestro mundo

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…

Obsessed With Frida Kahlo

April 11, 2007 § 21 Comments

obsessed with frida kahlo, 2007

el es frida kahlo, 2007

part of the piece I did for d[x]i magazine on the commodification of Frida Kahlo

auto retrato, 2003

autoretrato

frida painting, 2007

frida puppets, 2007

In search of the #1 Frida Kahlo fan in the World

PROVE IT answer the following questions:

When did you fall in love with Frida?

Why do you admire her?

What trivia do you know about Frida Kahlo?

How many and what Frida objects do you own? (prints of her work, t-shirts, mugs, wall hangings, toothbrushes, etc…)

please leave a written comment, submit photos, or a video response
Dressed as Frida

Still from Forever Frida
Frida KahloFrida Kahlo @ Fiddlehead Fest.me dressed as frida kahlo at work

RachelFrida03Alter EgoMe As Frida Kahlo 1

Davina as FridaFrida KahloFrida Kahlo's 100th Birthday

How does it feel to be called a JAP?

March 11, 2007 § 13 Comments

Please take this as an opportunity to let your voice be heard.

I welcome anyone who would like to offer a response online, either written or in the form of a video blog. Remember that the acciones plásticas videos are not the stereotypes themselves, they are women who have be affected by their presence.

I will continuously update this post with videos as they are submitted. “How does it feel to be called a _____?” Feel free, (but not limited) to respond to the stereotypes I have presented. Use this as an opportunity to share your own experiences.

If you are an educator takes this as an opportunity to discuss these issues with your students. I am in the process of developing curriculum for presenting acciones plásticas in the classroom.

while the “youtube” video blogs are played on a reel.

Orthodox Jew JAP Chach Sexy Latina

The public will be invited to respond, by altering the text accompanying each doll. Over the course of the exhibition the original cards displaying the stereotype will be replaced by the new cards with altered text.

Your video responses will be incorporated into the reel.

From the show

Now I am asking you to participate. Hopefully viewing these images has caused you to question if and when similar stereotypes have been applied to you or those around you. Please take the time to share your experiences by clicking on any of the dolls to submit your response.

Escobar_Maya_02.pngEscobar_Maya_03 .pngEscobar_Maya_04.pngEscobar_Maya_05.pngEscobar_Maya_06.png

I have included a section with guiding questions. If you have more you would like to submit post them here

Please feel free but not limited to answering the following questions regarding each doll:

Is there any truth to this description?

Are all of these things negative?

What is the origin of this stereotype?

What is a _________ really like?

What does this stereotype leave unsaid?

brenda still


Jewish Stereotypes

Bitch Magazine Aritcle

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