Saturday, June 12, 2010

La Malinche

I am a Mexican woman and I have experienced rape. You might wonder what the connection between the two is. La Malinche also known as Dona Marina impacted my life when I learned of her story, she is known as the mother of the Mexican and also to her Aztec people as a traitor. In history and in my experience women fall into two categories; the whore or the 'virgin' mother. Depending on which story you read and who wrote it my Mexican culture is a result of the symbolic rape (often literal in meaning) of the Native tribes by the Spanish conquistadors; which ultimately produced me. Does this mean I am a child of rape, destined to be spoiled? I began to wonder if the cycle of violence against women would always be accepted. And worse I began to wonder if the woman would always be forced to carry the blame, even if it is obvious it was not her fault. I sat on a bench in a park on Speedway and Stone holding up this sketch I drew which represents both La Malinche and I. Some people connected with the image and some didn't but it made no difference to me as I offered my time in memorial for all those who have suffered and still suffer at the hand of another. If you need help click here.

walk 2/week 3

Well, this performance was quite interesting. As I have mentioned before I work in a law office which is a professional setting. As my small modification I chose to put an excess amount of make-up as well as jewelry on and went to work. Shocked unsure, and uncontrollable laughter is what I came across at first sight by my co-workers. The attorneys were much less entertained, they were concerned about how it "looked" to clients that I was done up like a "clown"... although I'm sure that's not the word they wished they could have used.

The first observation I have to address is the fact that even though I have worked there for three years it was hard for anyone in the office to take me seriously. In my opinion I didn't go too far overboard with the make-up... I added lashes, put on a little too much blush and eyeshadow and complimented it with red lipstick (I thought I looked very 1980's). Yet still I have to say less was asked of me that day. For example often times I am asked to translate from spanish to english for either clients or the attorney depending on the situation... this is pretty much an everyday thing, so I wondered when I was not asked by the attorney to help him if it was a result of my make-up and accessories. Also normally I do banking and pick up disclosure from downtown, but ironically I was not expected to do so. Also I was pretty much asked to hide anytime someone outside came into the office. Although I did experience some changes is what was expected of me when I was visible, this was not and issue regarding the phone or daily computer tasks.

After work I went to Lucky Wishbone to pick up some dinner and there I did receive looks, but I couldn't really tell if they were checking me out or ...? Men (with the exception of the attorneys and my boyfriend) didn't really seem to have a problem with how I looked, but oh holy hell did I get it from the ladies.

I guess at the end of the day after the shock in the morning of looking at myself in the mirror passed I began to be a little sad for my other self. I felt bad that just based upon how I had decided to present myself I was ridiculed, judged, sexually available or not taken seriously. I began to think about a conversation or argument my boyfriend and I got into after we watched a performance by Christina Aguilera. His comment was "doesn't she have kids" implying that her sexual expression was unacceptable for a mother. Boy did I go off considering he bumps lil Wayne on the daily and various other male rappers that drip with sexual references who.... oh my God... have kids too!

Ultimately I was forced to recognize that women particularly have to endure so much on a daily basis just because of how they are dressed, or how they choose to present themselves, or even the art they create. It is frustrating for me to know that this is just how our society functions, and that other countries don't have the same freedoms we do here in America. The day started off almost like a joke, but by the end of the day I was really kinda angry.

See the link note the references to men vs. women... 'Compton Cookout'

walk 1/week 3

While visiting a friend of mine in the Bay Area her dance group BodiRock was set to perform at the carnaval 2010. Apparently a couple rival groups battle during the parade and she asked me to rep for her group. She gave me clothes including a shirt that read BodiRock to wear and I was to support the dancers and recruit new members. Since most of thepeople doing the same as I were friends and family I became part of a family if you will. Having more than just myself with this task created a lotmore energy and excitement about what we were doing. Not to mention my friend Mica is a great dancer and I love her dearly! Our job was to make funny faces and had gestures while the rival team danced and cheer make noise when BodiRock went. Also I was asked to hand out flyers with contact information in case someone wanted to join in.

I got really into this experience, I had a great time and I felt there was a purpose for what I was doing. This is a celebration of culture and I was honored to be a part of it rather than just a bystander watching. Like I mentioned before the people I was with really made me feel like I was a part of something wonderful, and hey if I got them a couple new recruits or hyped one of our dancers up with my cheers than I did a great thing.

INB/Affective Composition and Aesthetics

INB or Infernal Noise Brigade was a group whose purpose is to raise awareness for political or social issues through the use of music and protest. I believe I saw this group in San Francisco in 2000 the year I moved to the Bay Area. I barely remember them as there was a lot of people and a lot for me to absorb... but I do remember the marching band and the police of course. What I enjoy about this organization is that it uses traditional forms of political protest with a sonic twist. The use of music and performance allowed for this group to reach and communicate with a wider spectrum of people; accepted or not.

It has long been known that sound waves are directly influential on heart rates and emotion among many other physical effects and grouped with political or social intent could be extremely powerful. In Stevphen Shukaitis' writing he says this..."This is aesthetic politics—not necessarily because of the directly expressed content of the work—but because of the role it plays in drawing lines of flight away from staggering weight of everyday life, in hybridizing sounds and experiences to create space where other relations and possibilities can emerge." What is being expressed here is that combining sound and performance you are able to create a new space a new experience that can enlighten in ways you might not have seen otherwise. Political art is complicated and many often don't want to or don't feel it necessary to become involved if it is not having a direct effect on their lives. What INB did bringing themselves into the community was become less formal, more attractive on a psychological and aesthetic level. Think for a moment, have you ever been to a concert you really enjoyed? One that you enjoyed enough to let some comments or ideas expressed by the artist slide? I know I have.

Although these were peaceful protests in some cases they were gassed and local authorities found it necessary to use physical force or even arrest protesters because of the tense situation adrenaline can produce. Particular tempos of especially drum beats can have a serious impact on ones perception, thought process and emotional stability. I see it as no coincidence that they were playing a warrior anthem while this gassing took place, if anything it could have caused this aggressive reaction from the police because they might not have been aware of how the music was affecting them.

Lets take Bob Marley as an example, his songs of freedom, his political messages paired with soothing harmonious sound waves. Of course if your a fan a reggae you know Bob Marley didn't start the game he contributed to it by creating a new way of sending a political message, new way of creating hope and resistance. In every culture around the world music serves a purpose, it shall be no different in the United States and the sub-culture of revolution.

Organization is a key element of any type of performance art. Although INB had a rough start with this they managed to still have a lasting impact on political protest history and I'm sure many people who have herd of them or seen them have incorporated the use of performance and music in causes of their own.

Recently I went to the Carnaval in San Francisco's Mission and this is a perfect example of the power of music. Shukaitis expresses that more so these days public spaces are becoming less open to public or street art. While at the Carnaval I couldn't help but notice that yes there was indeed a parade going on, but it did stay in a central location near Mission District of San Francisco and didn't stray far. This celebration is rooted in the multicultural gathering of the diverse groups that inhabit the city. The power and pride that these performances provoked was exhilarating and reminds us how alike we all really are and also how music and dance/performance can influence/teach.

Shukaitis states the following "Not surprisingly, then, the repertoire of many radical marching bands is a veritable melting pot of styles, cultures, and backgrounds, bringing together everything from jazz and big-band tunes to klezmer and Moroccan music, from Indian wedding songs to calypso, salsa, reggae, and Sun Ra. They also derive a large degree of inspiration from projects that have merged the energy of punk rock and street performance, such as Crash Worship and !TchKung!, the latter of whom had members that went on to form marching bands. There is a great amount of crossover and mixing between political marching bands and other forms of street and performance art and theater." Organizations that recognize the validity of this statement can create an awareness and spread it's message to a greater number of people in a faster amount of time. Just think of "Hope for Haiti" almost everyone saw, bought or herd some music from this collection of artists who used their medium to raise money for a cause.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Inside/Outside The Scene

Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona I have watched the border go from open, where you didn't even need a drivers license to cross back to the U.S. to what it is today, a military operation; a very tense situation. The last time I went to Nogales, Sonora was about four years ago... and then the business' across the border were still thriving. When I crossed last weekend I was horrified to see a deserted town. I spoke with restaurant owners, the ones that are still open and many are planning to close down. I saw maybe two Americans on the Mexican side and of course they were holding their tax free cigarettes, medication and booze. As I walked through the empty streets of what used to be a day vacation and fun experience for many Americans I was sad. I was sad for the crumbling economy; and we'd be wrong to say that is not a result of all this negative publicity and our addiction to drugs. Mexico has been exploited by America almost since the beginning of their relationship, and it's so sad that we as educated American people are turning our backs on a country that practically assisted us in every way. Mexico has been outcasted, Mexicans have been outcasted. On this site; the U.S. and Mexican border people are loosing their lives. On this site families are being destroyed, economies are being destroyed and on this site the country that keeps it's citizens living in fear succeeds in the economic torture of Northern Mexico. I pray for our karma and for the people who are suffering; all the misplaced workers, I pray for the kids that are starving and malnourished nothing but 60 miles south of the University of Arizona.

walk 2/week 2

People are so self centered these days during this exercise I didn't find much of a difference between wearing glasses and an Ipod vs. not. When I cocooned myself in my recent itunes purchases with my payless shades I was kinda nervous walking around downtown Tucson. My senses were overwhelmed and definitely not at the awareness level I am used to. When I went back through the path I had taken without the shades and concert, my attempts at eye contact where shut down by almost all people... except the homie bumpin in his cutlass, he made eye contact with me :)
I tried this again when a friend of mine asked me to pick her up at a local bar. She wasn't ready to leave so I sat there in my PJ's and slippers and of course the sunglasses at 1 am. Surprisingly the sunglasses did not make me unapproachable, in fact in that setting more people were curious as to why I was wearing sunglasses in the middle of the night. Since I'm pregnant I could not join in the festivities so I messed with the drunkards... making up multiple stories as to why I was wearing the glasses. I actually felt quite glamours and when I took them off...I just wasn't that interesting anymore.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Style Wars

Style Wars was entertaining to watch and reminded me of the many conversations I had with people regarding 'bombing' or what's now called 'tagging' and why it should be considered art. What this film did was take the practice of bombing back to its roots. One of the most validating comments was made by a French woman who was at the gallery show and voiced that it was "sad" that the bombing was not vibrant anymore, that bombing was a kinda of trademark travelers enjoyed being able to experience. In the beginning of the film the kids in the subway expressed that this act in a way kept them from drugging and committing dangerous crimes which was the norm in their urban neighborhoods. Yes there was a white kid here and there from an upscale neighborhood but the bombing culture was rooted in the hood.

The subways with their pristine white paint were not representative of the city and its people. New York City has an abundance of culture a diverse community and the bombed trains expressed that, gave it some flava'. Sure Taki 183 was not a great artist but he set a foundation that eventually turned into an art practice. Some of the work those kids put out there were as respectable as any painting in a gallery. Yes this is government property, but in reality ownership could be but an illusion.

The idea that these kids were expressing their ownership is less important than being able to create something that extends outside their neighborhoods. Less concerned with 'owning' or marking a train it seems it was simply rewarding to see work that they created, something that they were good at and could be proud of. Eventually, perhaps nowadays you will see bombing that has a political, economic or social theme. But in my experience this is less frequent in the United States compared to other particularly third world countries. In Guatemala an artist/activist Daniel Hernandez Salazar used photography to create an image that eventually became symbolic image of the thirty-six years of the violence during the civil war. The image was transfered onto public spaces in abundance and created hope for the people who had lived so long in fear. This type of work is more similar to the artist called Banksy. Bansky's work is poetic, subtle and beautiful but also carries deep rooted messages which can be interpreted and give hope the same as Salazar. In each of these examples the site is important although in some cases less political and more social.

To call them a powerless demographic would be incorrect. The reason why urban culture has been so oppressed and poisoned is because they are so powerful. Take for example the influence it had on suburban middle class 'white' kids. Exploring tombs has to be more interesting and exciting then mowing the lawn or finishing your math homework. Who wants to be politically correct all the time, how boring. What attracts middle and upper class kids to this culture is the passion these artists have. Some tag because thats really all they have to be passionate about. They couldn't and many times still can't compete in the business or academic world because it is geared to not accept them and their beliefs, lifestyles and influences. For example when the major Koch is talking about what "productive" things these kids could do other than bombing, he of course refers to grabbing brooms and sponges and 'contributing' to a society that would respect that. If the culture of hip hop was built by a bunch of white kids he would have said something like... they could be in college or use their artistic gifts in advertising or marketing. Some food for thought.

Lets compare the artists who sketched out their pieces, and took pride and time in their work vs. that jerk that went along spraying lines, squiggles and other amateur crap. Jealousy, I'd even go as far as to say supremacy became apparent watching this man deface visually appealing work with some half-ass scribble. Quality over quantity is always correct. It made me angry that he had the nerve to cover good work with no talent an obvious hatred. The rule of appropriated art is you have to do it better than the first guy, not scribble some crap to destroy ones value and pride. Its like the brats that tagged on the mural downtown Tucson on The Chicago Store building.
These kids didn't compliment the work, if they had I'm sure it would be appreciated;they mocked it with their sorry attempts at 'representing'. "Yeah, I vandalism, but I did something to make your eyes open up, right? So what are you talking about it for?" the quote can be literally taken and to critics give way to arguments that the work is graffiti and nothing more, or you can interpret the word here and ask yourself... is vandalism ok as long as it is visually stimulating? I would have to say yes. If we allowed only the rich and the powerful to dictate what went up in our cities we would have more situations like this...(click here) AZ Elementary School Mural Altered.

Urban culture is exciting it's the unknown, the other. While the same men say stupid things like "if they are Middle Eastern they can't be trusted" and "it pisses me off when I see on the news an accident involving illegal Mexicans that we have to provide medical attention for" when asked who he found most attractive in Hollywood... Salma Hayek slips out (Lebanese/Mexican woman). I shook my head and observed, some people are just not worth your breath. Black/Latin cultures have paralleled each other either collaborating or competing they have fueled more creativity and more pride; ultimately more production. Particularly in the arts, culture is a fundamental contribution to great work. It's no secret that music and dance have a special place for people of color; salsa, rap, breakdancing, cumbia, reggae... lets face it, it's just more fun than ballet.

It's exciting for these bombers to be able to hold a show and sell works, its rewarding and productive... it's art. This is not selling out or going mainstream, this is utilizing your talents to create a living. Do I believe that the work looses it's intensity when it is taken from a public space to a gallery or canvus? No, it changes but the change can add to the work also. Work in public space is wonderful and powerful, but often ultimately illegal. What the gallery can provide is exposure that could lead to a commission or grant, you never know. The important thing here is to have an open mind even if it's not your thing. I don't dress like a skater or draw emo sketches, but I sure will go to show and have a look. What wasn't noted in the documentary were all those people to enjoyed having a look at those trains while they were down in those dungeons heading to their office jobs of sterile white walls and cubicles. I bet they would have enjoyed laying their eyes upon those bombs rather than the Benson and Hedges advertisements, wouldn't you?