ARCHIVOS SUBVERSIVOS (Subversive Archives)
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Carpeta: 1965, 2008
Mixed media on paper. Approx 27" x 32". This work examines the intersections between Malcolm X and Pedro Albizu Campos. They died exactly two months apart on February 21st and April 21 respectively, in the year 1965.
Carpeta: 1950, 2007
Mixed media on canvas, 20" x 24". This work includes a collage of images and newspaper clipping taken during and after the Nationalist insurrections of 1950 in Puerto Rico. The US government responded by sending the National Guard and bombing the town of Utuado. This image shows a national guardsman rounding up women and children.
Carpeta: Richie Perez, 2007
Acrylic, collage, burlap, paper clips, file labels on manila file folder, 18" x 12". Part of the PRESENTE! The Young Lords in New York exhibition at the Bronx Museum 2015. Young Lord Richie Perez is featured alongside NYPD memos of surveillance of Perez' work & that of other Puerto Rican independence supporters and Young Lords Party Members.
Carpeta: Lolita Lebron, 2007
Acrylic, collage, burlap, paper clips, file labels on manila file folder, 18" x 12". Puerto Rican Nationalist Lolita Lebron is featured alongside images of her March 1st 1954 arrest and, court hearing transcripts detailing the radiation experiments she was subjected to while in prison.
Carpeta: Julia de Burgos, 2007
Acrylic, collage, burlap, paper clips, file labels on manila file folder, 18" x 12". Puerto Rican nationalist poet Julia de Burgos is featured alongside her most "subversive" poetry calling for revolution and the liberation of Puerto Rico.
Carpeta: Jesus Colón, 2007
Acrylic, collage, burlap, paper clips, file labels on manila file folder, 18" x 12". Journalist, writer, activist, Communist Jesus Colon is featured alongside newspaper clippings and images identifying him as a "red leader" and detailing his having to appear before the "UnAmerican" committee.
Carpeta: Ruth Reynolds, 2007
Acrylic, collage, burlap, paper clips, file labels on manila file folder, 18" x 12". Librarian, archivist, leader of American's for Puerto Rico's Independence Ruth Reynolds is featured alongside letters written by her organization in support of members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. Photos of her arrest and elements of her actual government file, #1340 are copied and pasted into the painting.
Carpeta: Blanca Canales, 2007
Acrylic, collage, burlap, paper clips, file labels on manila file folder, 18" x 12". 1950 Jayuya uprising leader, Puerto Rican Nationalist Blanca Canales is featured alongside newspaper clippings of the revolution she led that spread throughout the island and resulted in the US National Guard dropping bombs on civilian communities. Photos of her arrest and elements of her actual government file, #2 are copied and pasted into the painting.
Carpeta: Pedro Albizu Campos, 2007
Acrylic, collage on canvas. 24" x 18". Featured is Nationalist Party leader Pedro Albizu Campos alongside documents from government files, revealing the radiation torture he was subjected to while political prisoner of the United States. One letter is written to Albert Einstein asking for his support and investigation into the matter.
Carpeta: Filiberto Ojeda Rios, 2007
Acrylic, collage, burlap, paper clips, file labels on manila file folder, 9" x 12". Featured is clandestine revolutionary Filiberto Ojeda Rios alongside his FBI wanted poster & newspaper clippings on actions by his organization el Ejercito Popular Boricua/ Los Macheteros. Filiberto Ojeda Rios was hunted & assassinated by the FBI at his home in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico at age 72. Shot by a sniper bullet to the clavicle, left to bleed to death September 23rd 2005, anniversary of Lares revolution.
Carpeta: Victor Gerena, 2007
Acrylic, collage, burlap, Wells Fargo patch on canvas. 24" x 18". Featured is revolutionary at large, Victor Gerena, an armed vehicle guard who injected his co-workers with sleep serum and made off with over $7 million. Developments later revealed his connected to the armed clandestine organization el Ejercito Popular Boricua/ Los Macheteros. Since the 1983 heist, Gerena has yet to be found. Newspaper clippings of Los Macheteros/ 3 Kings toy distributions post-heist are included too.
Acrylic on burlap, approx 80" x 40". This scroll features just 15 painted portraits of many Puerto Rican political prisoners. Each includes the year of their arrest & the year of their release, except the top three. At the time of the painting (2007) the top three individuals were still imprisoned. Carlos Alberto Torres has since been released, & I was able to work with him here in Puerto Rico. Oscar Lopez though now in Puerto Rico, will be released May, 2017.
"In order to appraise the caliber of leadership in the Puerto Rican independence movement, particularly as it pertains to our efforts to disrupt their activities and compromise their effectiveness… we must determine their capabilities of influencing others, capabilities of real leadership, why the intense desire for Puerto Rico's independence, what they expect to gain from independence and the support they have from other leaders and rank-and-file members. We must have information concerning their weaknesses, morals, criminal records, spouses, children, family life, educational qualifications and personal activities other than independence activities."
-FBI, COINTELPRO (Subversive Controls Section): MEMO, 1960
ARCHIVOS SUBVERSIVOS (Subversive Archives) developed out of an invitation to exhibit at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, CUNY (El Centro) in 2007. To commemorate 10 years since having painting The Ponce Massacre and beginning the practice of copying and collaging historic documents and images found in Cornell's libraries, I decided to create a new body of works for the exhibition that would draw directly from the archives at el Centro library. That resource coupled with images and documents from my own personal collection led to the creation of this series examining the continued practice of U.S. Government surveillance and the secret files that have been and continue to be kept on Puerto Rican independence supporters. It references programs like COINTELPRO (the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program) working to dissolve the independence movement and other leftist movements that arise within the United States. As a colony of the US, Puerto Rico’s independence movement has been treated as a national security threat since the rise of the Nationalist Party in the 1930s. This same program was used against the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, the American Indian Movement and The Young Lords Party, to name a few.
Collaging text, documents and images, juxtaposed with painted portraits of featured “subversives”, ARCHIVOS SUBVERSIVOS draws its aesthetic directly from files and archives. Painted with ochre, sienna and sepia tones, the images appear aged and worn as if filed away for an extended period. Some even appear damaged or burned, as if someone attempted to destroy the documents that might expose truths about innocent men and women being harassed by the government or about imprisoned leaders being tortured with radiation. Some are created directly on file folders and incorporate adhesive labels and paper clips as typical files would. The use of the courier font references the typewritten documents found in these government files, particularly during the period of the 1940s and 50s when McCarthyism and the Un-American Committee hearings led to the surveillance of thousands of suspected “communists” and “subversives.” As with other projects, I also incorporate the use of burlap or sackcloth as a commentary on poverty and as a reference to the declining agricultural production in Puerto Rico since the United States invasion of 1898.