Archive | April, 2011

<!–:en–>FÍJATE – Plátano Chains & Radical Gym Shoes: An Interview with Artist Miguel Luciano<!–:–>

Posted on 17 April 2011 by alejandro

On April 8, 2011 an expanded Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (IPRAC) celebrated the opening of its new exhibition, “Lo Que Trajo el Barco,” by three, young Puerto Rican artists from three distinct locations but with intersecting narratives. The exhibition, which will be open to the public until June 2011, also served as a tribute to the living master of Puerto Rican art, Antonio Martorell, whose much-anticipated exhibit is scheduled to follow.

The artists, Miguel Luciano, Josué Pellot, and Ramón Miranda, live in places of great distance from one another: New York City, Chicago, and Puerto Rico, respectively. However, what they share in their art is a deep desire to grapple with and understand the Puerto Rican context. For these masters of their craft, Puerto Rico and its multiple socio-cultural and political productions serve as a reference point from which to begin the ever-important dialogue of our identity, but the discourse continues beyond the waters of the Caribbean. The question of who and what we are as a distinct, but disparate people, extend to and incorporate those very places in which we have settled and created community.

For a case in point, one of the pieces on display, “Machetero Air Force Ones/ Filiberto Ojeda Uptowns” by Miguel Luciano, may seem to be just another pair of fresh, white Nike shoes with spray-painted Puerto Rican flags – a common feature in the ghettos of the U.S. However, the colorful images of an assassinated pro-independence leader that stirred an uproar on the island and in the U.S. provide a compelling commentary on issues of materialism, cultural authenticity, the mass production of art and propaganda, collective memory, the synchronization of culture, and puertorriqueñidad in the Diaspora. It is no coincidence that the title of the exhibition is called “Lo Que Trajo el Barco” – “What was brought by the boat,” taken from a song by “El sonero mayor” Ismael Rivera. Migration not only moved half our people across the ocean, but also challenged our very definition of what it means to be Puerto Rican.

To gain a better understanding of the exhibition, his art, and to explore the themes of identity and history in Puerto Rican art, we interviewed the humble and profound Miguel
Luciano, whose renowned work has been showcased in galleries and museums around the world. From Paris to Moscow, Brooklyn to Slovenia and even on cover of the scholarly Reggaetón: An Anthology, Luciano’s pieces are providing new insights and a playful rendition of our national character.

Where were you born and raised? Where did you study? Why did you decide to become an artist?


I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and grew up in the United States from Seattle to Miami and I now live in New York City. I was always interested and had a passion for art and drawing ever since I was a kid. I was also interested in social justice and activism and I knew I could combine these things and make work that could contribute to social change; looking at artwork as a vehicle for social change.

In your presentation at the opening of your collaborative exhibition at IPRAC, you spoke about playing on the readings of Puerto Rican and Caribbean cultural signifiers and layering new mythologies. How do you decide which cultural signifiers are significant enough to present in your work? What is your purpose in using Puerto Rican cultural symbols?

I look at our visual history and how it is taught usually, and I look at the cultural signifiers that are often used to represent Puerto Rican culture and identity. I use these histories and cultural symbols in order to challenge and flip them and do the same to how we see ourselves [as Puerto Ricans].

Also, to re-inscribe them with new meaning and change essentialist ideas, with an attempt to see how we self-identity and how we were identified throughout history.

Why did you choose to present those three particular pieces of your work at IPRAC?

It started with a dialogue with the other artists [Josue Pellot and Ramón Miranda Beltrán] in order to see how our work could relate to each other and to find a common theme. The pieces at IPRAC, I’ve wanted to share with the Chicago audience, especially the Pure Plantanium Pendant and the Machetero  Air Force Ones. I wanted to show them for a while in Humboldt Park, since there is a vibrant youth presence in the community and I thought it would resonate in that context. For the Cosmic Taíno piece, it includes a figure of a Bohique, who was a spiritual sage in the indigenous community. This character is often used in children’s books in Puerto Rico and I use it to play with it and to talk about illumination and consciousness in a spiritual way. It also serves as a good contrast to Josue Pellot’s neon lights, which represents conquest and death, while my piece represents spirituality and life. Also, the title of the exhibit, “Lo Que Trajo el Barco,” speaks to a theme of colonialism.

Do you consider yourself a Puerto Rican artist or an artist that is Puerto Rican? What is the difference, if there is any?

I’m really not too concerned with that. I am Puerto Rican and an artist. My work has engaged Puerto Rican culture, history, and identity. The work also speaks to Latinos in general, but comes from the reference point that is Puerto Rican and that is where I’m from. And, I know who my
audience is and I don’t think of it as limiting. I don’t only show my artwork in the Puerto Rican community, but I’m very proud to show it in the community and that is a
priority for me. It is inspired by community and it makes sense to present it to the community. IPRAC, for example, doesn’t become an exclusive space that excludes the audience that I’m trying to get at, it provides a dialogue with a community.

Any special message you’d like to give to our readers and the Puerto Rican community in Chicago?

Go see the show and it is an honor to show my work in Chicago and in Humboldt Park.

zp8497586rq

Comments Off on <!–:en–>FÍJATE – Plátano Chains & Radical Gym Shoes: An Interview with Artist Miguel Luciano<!–:–>

<!–:en–>IPRAC presents “Lo Que Trajo el Barco”<!–:–>

Posted on 17 April 2011 by alejandro

For More Info go to: www.iprac.org

zp8497586rq

Comments Off on <!–:en–>IPRAC presents “Lo Que Trajo el Barco”<!–:–>

<!–:es–>“Defender a los trabajadores molesta a los poderosos” <!–:–>

Posted on 17 April 2011 by alejandro

Podrán cortar todas las flores, pero no podrán detener la primavera. Con esta frase del poeta chileno Pablo Neruda el congresista por Chicago, Luis V. Gutiérrez, describió las determinaciones del actual gobierno de Puerto Rico en contra de todo lo que representa puertorriqueñidad y diferencia e intercambio de ideas en una conferencia de prensa ofrecida en el Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico (CAPR) el pasado 23 de marzo.

“La primavera llega todos los años, así como los puertorriqueños dicen lo que piensan todos los días y nadie, ni aún el hombre poderoso que duerme en La Fortaleza, podrá hacer algo para detenerlos.”

La conferencia de prensa surge de las reacciones que sucitaron en el pueblo puertorriqueño, unos a favor y otros condenando, las denuncias que hizo ante el Congreso sobre las violaciones a los derechos civiles y humanos por parte del Gobierno de Puerto Rico a la población en general, los pasados 16 de febrero y 2 de marzo de 2011. Gutiérrez asegura que cuando acudió al hemiciclo lo hizo convencido de que la libertad y la democracia en Puerto Rico están amenazadas. Ante esto, el congresista demócrata dice que tenía que denunciar ésto, al ser la única persona en el Congreso de los Estados Unidos capaz de hacerlo.

Sus expresiones surgen debido a la ofensiva de la administración en contra de las instituciones que defiendan o representen la puertorriqueñidad, como es el caso de la Universidad de Puerto Rico y el Colegio de Abogados. El Colegio de Abogados ha sido más que una asociación profesional. Desde 1840, los abogados puertorriqueños han respondido al llamado de tener un fideicomiso público, lo que implica que éstos, además de su práctica privada, están al servicio de la sociedad puertorriqueña. Gutiérrez manifestó que el defender a los trabajadores y a los que no tienen poder a veces molesta a los poderosos, y que por esto el Senado de Puerto Rico (con mayoría del Partido Nuevo Progresista) y la administración de Fortuño lo censuraron. Añadió que a la gente que difiere de esta administración los tratan como a los estudiantes que protestan, los acusan de ser comunistas y agitadores.

Gutiérrez se mostró muy preocupado por el patrón de la actual administración de demonizar a los que difieren de sus propuestas en vez de discutir y comprometerse con el bien del país. “Este gobierno debería pensarlo dos veces antes de proferir sus palabras, y sobre cómo caracteriza a sus oponentes. Las palabras importan.”

Además, manifestó que las reacciones del partido en poder ante lo diferente amenazan al libre intercambio de ideas. A continuación algunas líneas del discurso de Luis Gutiérrez a los puertorriqueños y puertorriqueñas pronunciado en el CAPR:

El día que ustedes dejen de censurarme será el día que habré dejado de preocuparme por la libertad de palabra y por el futuro de Puerto Rico y ese día no llegará hasta  que tome mi último aliento.

Y, les tengo otro consejo: Ni su censura, ni su Fuerza de Choque, ni sus sesiones legislativas en el capitolio cerradas al público, ni acallar a ciertas voces en los medios noticiosos, ni remover los portones de la Universidad, nada de esto va a silenciar a sus oponentes.

Ni al Colegio de Abogados. Ni a los estudiantes. Ó a los reporteros, Ó a los ambientalistas. Ni a los líderes sindicales ó los miembros de los sindicatos. No van a silenciar a ningún puertorriqueño que desee decir lo que piensa.

Esta rabia, esta exigencia de que el partido dominante nunca sea retado, esta intolerancia a las ideas en competencia, este no es el Puerto Rico que yo conozco. Sencillamente, no reconozco a un Puerto Rico donde el Colegio de Abogados pueda ser visto como un enemigo de lo que es bueno, correcto y decente.

No reconozco a un Puerto Rico donde las vibrantes protestas estudiantiles se enfrenten con violencia armada y con palabras llenas de odio.

No reconozco a un Puerto Rico donde los ambientalistas y los líderes sindicales, las estaciones de radio y los periódicos son vistos como enemigos del estado.

No reconozco a un Puerto Rico donde los oficiales electos en posiciones de poder disparan palabras como “cobardes”, “sacarlos a patadas” “crápulas y garrapatas”, como si fueran personajes del “Show de Laura” y no como gente de estatura que deberían establecer el ejemplo.

Y, no reconozco a un Puerto Rico donde a un miembro del Congreso puede dar un discurso breve y que un gobierno de Puerto Rico le diga “siéntate y cállate”.

Ese no es mi Puerto Rico.  Ese no es el lugar de debate y libertad y justicia que yo amo y por el cual voy a luchar dondequiera, en todo momento y por cualquier razón.

Porque, déjenme decirles esto hoy: nadie va decirme que no soy lo suficientemente puertorriqueño para que me importe lo que le está ocurriendo a nuestro pueblo.

Soy lo suficientemente puertorriqueño para saber que el debate y la discusión son elementos fundamentales de quiénes somos aquí en Puerto Rico.

Soy lo suficientemente puertorriqueño para saber que los ambientalistas que desean proteger nuestras playas y nuestros bosques, lo verde de nuestra patria, lo que destruiría el gasoducto, no son agitadores, son patriotas.

Soy lo suficientemente puertorriqueño para saber que el Colegio de abogados no está aquí para ser perro faldero de los poderosos, está aquí para ser el salvavidas de los que no tienen poder.

Soy lo suficientemente puertorriqueño para saber que los portones de la Universidad no son barreras para controlar y disciplinar, son símbolos del aprendizaje y del conocimiento.

zp8497586rq

Comments Off on <!–:es–>“Defender a los trabajadores molesta a los poderosos” <!–:–>

<!–:en–>Documenting History in the Making: ¡Marcha! on Paseo Boricua<!–:–>

Posted on 17 April 2011 by alejandro

Several years ago, on the historic day of March 10, 2006, hundreds of thousands of students and families took to the streets in protest against Sensenbrenner bill H.R. 4437. This  repressive bill, which was successfully defeated thanks to such protests, sought to  criminalize undocumented immigration and make felons out of any individual or organization convicted of assisting undocumented immigrants.

Since then, Latino and immigrant rights activists have continued to demand comprehensive immigration reform and an end to raids, deportations, and attacks on immigrant communities. This first mega march took place here in Chicago, and spread throughout the country, sparking some of the largest protests in U.S. history. Though Chicago was, and continues to be, central to the national immigration debate, there is a tendency to ignore or forget the city’s contribution.

Fortunately, a recent book documents and analyzes Chicago’s special place in the immigrant rights movement. Edited by UIC professors, political scientist Amalia Pallares and sociologist Nilda Flores-González, ¡Marcha! Latino Chicago and the Immigrant Rights Movement explores the organizations, leaders, politics and identities that gave rise to the megamarches and to the broader politics of Latino and immigrant rights.

On March 31, Batey Urbano and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) hosted a community discussion of ¡Marcha!. Presenters included Flores-González, Pallares, Michael Rodríguez Muñiz, a contributor of a chapter on Puerto Rican participation in the immigrant rights movement, and Jhonathan Gomez, a member of a collective of photographers. Since its release, the book and photography exhibit has traveled to community spaces throughout the city,
stimulating reflection and brainstorming for the future. Given the PRCC’s longstanding involvement in the movement and the fact that two immigrant rights activists took sanctuary on Paseo Boricua, organizers felt an event in Humboldt Park was quite important.

Before a crowd of over 60 people, the presenters and audience engaged in discussion of the immigrant rights movement and prospects for progressive change in the future. It represents a great example of scholarship combining with political activism to carve out new possibilities.

¡Marcha! is published by and
available from the University of
Illinois Press.

zp8497586rq

Comments Off on <!–:en–>Documenting History in the Making: ¡Marcha! on Paseo Boricua<!–:–>

<!–:en–>Norwegian Hospital and Local Community Organizations Urge the Illinois General Assembly to Reject the $552 million in Medicaid Cuts<!–:–>

Posted on 17 April 2011 by alejandro

On March 30, 2011, Norwegian American Hospital and the Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness, along with several other local Humboldt Park community organizations, took a bus load of 40 supporters to Springfield. The trip to the capital was an advocacy day to encourage the state’s General Assembly to reject Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed $552 million cut in Medicaid reimbursement to hospitals, nursing homes and other providers.

Supporters went around to their local representatives and asked them to consider the long-lasting negative effects of imposing Medicaid rate cuts to hospitals and the health care system, and how Norwegian American could be faced with $3.41 million in cuts per year.

Organizations that were present included: Block-by-Block: The Greater Humboldt Park Community Campaign Against Diabetes, Healthcare Alternative Systems Inc., Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Vida/SIDA.
“The advocacy day in Springfield was a huge success, and I think some very good momentum has been made, but work still needs to be done,” said Norwegian American Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer José R. Sánchez. “The proposed cut to Medicaid reimbursements would have a devastating impact on Norwegian American Hospital and, ultimately, negatively impact the already dire health status of the communities we serve.”

Norwegian American has been serving the needs of the community for over 115 years. Today, the community is home to many residents who are uninsured or underinsured, and have been found by public health researchers to have higher rates of asthma, diabetes, obesity and HIV/AIDS when compared to city and national rates. As a result, Norwegian American Hospital provides a large share of uncompensated care.

Hospitals are vital components of communities, providing essential services, including stability, care and employment to residents. All Illinois residents should be able to confidently rely on local hospitals at all times to meet their needs.

zp8497586rq

Comments Off on <!–:en–>Norwegian Hospital and Local Community Organizations Urge the Illinois General Assembly to Reject the $552 million in Medicaid Cuts<!–:–>

&lt;!–:en–&gt;Rep. Gutirrez’s Remarks on Puerto Rico Natural Gas Pipeline Project&lt;!–:–&gt;

Posted on 17 April 2011 by alejandro

Continuing a series of speeches the Congressman has delivered on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on the civil and human rights crisis in Puerto Rico, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) today addressed a proposed natural gas pipeline project that is being pushed by the Governor of Puerto Rico and his party.  The so-called “Via Verde” — or “Green Way” — is a 92 mile cross island project that has not received sufficient study or public scrutiny because it is being promoted as a response to an “energy emergency.”  Rep. Gutierrez announced he has filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests for information from all federal agencies that have addressed the project and asked the Army Corps of Engineers to “ o deny the permit request for the pipeline until experts testify, permits are applied for, community meetings are held, and environmental impact studies are done.”  The following are the Congressman’s remarks, delivered at approximately 10:00 a.m. ET, as prepared for delivery,

REP. GUTIERREZ: Mr. Speaker I rise today to talk once again about Puerto Rico, but this time it’s a little different. I rise to note that Governor Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico has actually said something that I can agree with.

Speaking about a proposed gas pipeline, the Republican Governor said, “We can’t continue to depend on fossil fuels.  Gasoducto is fossil fuels.”     He went on to say that “tying us down to natural gas for 30 years would be a grave mistake.”

He was referring to the construction of a natural gas pipeline on an island where the beautiful beaches, mountains and rain forests are both irreplaceable natural resources and part of the economic engine that drives tourism — a gas pipeline that sounds like a dubious proposition.

And I agree.

Mr. Fortuño spoke these words two years ago, as a candidate, criticizing his opponent.  Sadly, now that he is safely in office, Governor Fortuño has changed his mind. Now, he enthusiastically supports not just gas pipelines, but a much bigger, more environmentally disruptive and more expensive pipeline.

And how the construction of this gigantic, super-sized pipeline is being handled is another reason I must speak out — again — on the civil rights crisis in Puerto Rico. The ruling party would rather people not notice that Mister Fortuño and Governor Fortuño have opposite positions on gas pipelines.

So they are working hard to move this project forward under the cover of night. Every day – the ruling party answers this question: If you wanted to undertake a potentially dangerous, economically dubious, environmentally disastrous and extremely unpopular project – how would you go about it?

Here’s the ruling party’s answer:  You circumvent feasibility studies.  You avoid environmental impact studies.  You ignore the standard permitting and licensing procedures.  And you take every step possible to eliminate public hearings and public scrutiny.

But how do you proceed without these necessary safeguards and information?    If you are the government of Puerto Rico, and you want to build a 92 mile natural gas pipeline over the mountains; through forests, lakes and rivers; and across critical groundwater systems in Puerto Rico, you would amend a law designed to deal with natural disasters so you can bypass the normal permitting and public process.

What this ruling party does is declare an “energy emergency.”

This government’s “energy emergency” allows the pipeline to proceed — despite warnings from the Sierra Club, the environmental group Casa Pueblo, and even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.
— Despite residents’ concerns that it will be constructed near schools, churches and residential areas.

— Despite geologists noting it is near earthquake faults and that there have been 2,500 seismic events in the last 3 years and one felt all over the island just 2 days ago.

The self-declared “energy emergency” also helps hide the fact that you’ve given a ten million dollar contract to a pal of the Governor’s who has no experience at all in constructing gas pipelines.  He does, however, have experience skiing with the governor.  And maybe that’s why you run a slick, taxpayer funded PR campaign that renames the project “The Via Verde” — “the green way.”  So, instead of speaking to the huge financial, human and environmental costs — this Orwellian ad campaign calls a gas pipeline over the mountains and through the woods a “green way.”

Like a lot of people, I think it would be better to name it “Green away”… a magical cleanser you apply to your forests, rivers and lakes, to make them go away…along with millions of green tax dollars. Here’s an even more honest name for the project: the “wrong way.”  Because it’s wrong to spend the people’s money on a project they don’t want and hasn’t been appropriately studied, as the newspaper El Nuevo Día has shown in a series of reports.

Candidate Fortuño was right.  Governor Fortuño is wrong.

To shine some light on this matter, I have sent Freedom of Information Act requests to every and all federal agencies that have addressed the pipeline project.  I will release the results so that the people know who their government is meeting with, what documents exist, and what studies have been done to show the need for this project.

Furthermore, I have already urged the Army Corps of Engineers to deny the permit request for the pipeline until experts testify, permits are applied for, community meetings are held, and environmental impact studies are done.  Maybe the government can make the case for this project in the light of day.  But they shouldn’t be asking for a verdict without presenting their facts to the people first.

It’s time they stop doing things the “Via Verde” way and start doing things the right way.

zp8497586rq
zp8497586rq

Comments Off on &lt;!–:en–&gt;Rep. Gutirrez’s Remarks on Puerto Rico Natural Gas Pipeline Project&lt;!–:–&gt;

Advertise Here
Advertise Here

RELATED SITES