Tag Archives: art


Boricua Migration
Boricua Migration by vagabond ©

i answered a call for Puerto Rican artists to do something around the 100th anniversary of Puerto Ricans being forcibly made US citizens in 1917 by the Jones-Shafroth Act. i say forcibly because no one asked Puerto Ricans whether or not they wanted to be American citizens. The title of the exhibit “CITICIEN” is a clever play on words, combining the word citizen and the Spanish word for 100 which is cien, thus “citicien” which sounds like citizen.

The piece i did is a digital collage called Boricua Migration and it features a photograph of my grandfather Moises Santos from the 1940’s when he first came to this country. The forced American citizenship made immigrating to the US legally easier for Puerto Ricans than for other immigrants but it also placed Puerto Ricans in a strange space where they were treated as immigrants who were American citizens. Outside of Puerto Ricans not having to concern themselves as immigrants with citizenship the experience of Puerto Rican immigration was no different from other immigrants. The racism and exploitation that Puerto Ricans experienced as immigrants in America were so engrained into the American zeitgeist that many Americans are unaware that Puerto Ricans are American citizens and are shocked when confronted with the fact.

With that in mind i added some text from the song ‘America’ from West Side Story which i thought highlighted the Puerto Rican experience of being both of and between two places. When Puerto Ricans were made American citizens it was a legal move that created a existence of duality. To be Puerto Rican is to be caught existing both within and outside of the reality of being  Puerto Rican and American all at once. The work of the Nuyorican poets Pedro Pietri and Jesus Papoleto Melendez captured this as did the conceptual photography of Adal Maldonado.

When will I go back to San Juan.
When will you shut up and get gone?
Everyone there will give big cheer!
Everyone there will have moved here!

This piece, Boricua Migration, created for the Citicien exhibit was a concept that i had explored earlier for JL Torres collection of poetry called Boricua Passport. JL Torres poetry also touched on this hybridized identity of American and Puerto Rican existence. This latest piece could be seen as a visual re-mix of the original. Puerto Ricans have always had to struggle with the legal definitions of American citizenship in strange ways since Puerto Rico itself is a colony and Puerto Ricans have no political or legal autonomy over themselves. Since colonialism inherently brings with it second class citizenship the legal and political power of Puerto Ricans doesn’t reside who they are as citizens but depends wholly on where they live. On Puerto Rico they are American citizens who cannot vote in US presidential elections and only have a non-voting representative in the US congress. The moment Puerto Ricans move to the US they, in theory, become full US citizens in that they can now vote in US elections.

Boricua Passport Final

So the legal machinations of citizenship are complex for Puerto Ricans and the reason for that sits squarely on the shoulders of the US colonization of Puerto Rico. To complicate matters even further a Puerto Rican lawyer who believed in the decolonization and independence of Puerto Rico, Juan Mari Bras, sued the US and Puerto Rican government for his right to Puerto Rican citizenship. His argument was that the Jones-Shafroth act that made Puerto Ricans American citizens didn’t negate Puerto Rican citizenship. He won the case and now Puerto Ricans can actually apply for Puerto Rican citizenship. Initially the “CitiCien” exhibit which explores these issues of Puerto Rican citizenship was supposed to run at Clemente Soto Velez until March 8th, but has been extended until March 26th of 2017.

If you get a chance to see the exhibit check it out… Here is the press release for the CITICIEN show at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center.

Multimedia Art Collective DEFEND PUERTO RICO has launched the CITICIEN Exhibit Highlighting 100 Puerto Rican Artists On The 100th Anniversary of the Passage of the Jones-Shafroth Act.

Signed in 1917 by President Wilson, The Jones-Shafroth Act granted U.S. citizenship to anyone born in Puerto Rico on or after April 25, 1898, a complex and significant turning point for the people of Puerto Rico.

Curated by Puerto Rican artist Adrián Viajero Román, DEFEND PUERTO RICO’s CITICIEN traveling exhibition will feature 100 artworks highlighting the historical and present-day impact of the Jones Act, with its opening reception scheduled for Thursday, March 2, 2017 at The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center (107 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002), from 6-10PM.

Following strict visual guidelines of size and a black-and-white only palette, the exhibit’s theme is one of visual consistency and commitment, acting as a metaphor of the unified voice and solidarity of Puerto Ricans during this critical political time. Coinciding with the 100 year anniversary of the signing of the Jones Act, CITICIEN, in an effort to nurture greater solidarity and collaboration, will feature 100 Puerto Rican artists from the island and the diaspora, including Antonio Martorell, Nitza Tufiño, Diogenes Ballester, Sofia Maldonado, Celso Gonzalez and Melissa Montero, among others.

Visitors will have a chance to experience artist talks and workshops throughout the duration of the exhibit, attendees at the opening reception will be able to watch a series of short films and interviews, as well as interact with immersive 360 and AR experiences that have been produced as part of the DEFEND PUERTO RICO Project. In addition, we will have a live music performance by Puerto Rican music ensemble “Los Pleneros de la 21, which is made possible by support from the NYC Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito’s office, and the Cultural Immigrant Initiative Fund.


Abey Charron • Aby Ruiz • Adál Maldonado • Adrián Viajero Román • Adrielo • Alberto Ongay • Alejandro Epifanio • Alex Feliciano • Alexis Diaz • Amalia Avilés • Andres Rodriguez • Antonio Martorell • Arianna Chikki Cuesta • Barbara Diaz-Tapia • Bemba Prints • Betsy Casanas • Bles – Eli Rios • Bluster – James Alicea • Bonafide Rojas • Camille Imilse Arroyo • Carlos Jesus Martinez Dominguez • Celso Gonzalez • Christian Martir • Crystal Clarity • Damaris Cruz • Daniel Alago • Danielle De Jesus • David Zayas • Denis Gonzalez • Diego Romero • Diogenes Ballester • Don Rimx • Ector Javier • Edgardo Larregui • Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez • Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi • Elizam Escobar • Faviana Silva • Fernando Román • Francisco Molina Reyes II • Gabriela Vazquez Martinez • Gretchen Ruiz Ramos • Güillo Cruz • Gustavo Santiago Jiménez • Harry Martinez • Herminio Rodriguez • Javier Padilla • Jean Oyola • Jo-El Lopez • Jocelyn Ortiz • Jose Andreu • Juan Angel Roman – Nepo • Juan Pablo Vizcaino Cortijo • Juan Sanchez • Juanito Guerrilla • Karlo Andrei Ibarra • Leenda Bonilla • Lester Rey Irizarry • Luis Cordero • Luis Vidal • Luis Carle • Manny Vega • Marcos Dimas • Maria Dominguez • Mario Ruben Carrion • Marta Mabel Perez • Martin Garcia-Rivera • Máximo Colón • Mayra L. Córdova • Melissa Alvarez • Melissa Montero • Mia Román Hernandez • Mikey Cordero • Michelle Angela Ortiz • Migdalia Luz • Miguel Luciano • Miguel Trelles • Miguelangel Ruiz • Milaniza Montalvo • Moriviví Colectivo • Natalia Nicole • Nelson Santiago • Nia Andino • Nick Quijano • Nitza Tufino • Norberto Morales • Oliver Rios • Otura Mun – IFE • Patrick Urbain • Priscilla Anacakuyani Bell • PSEUDOMERO • Rafael Rodriguez • Ralph Serrano • Raquel Martínez Díaz • RIBS – Robin Padro • Ricardo Cabret • Roberto Biaggi • Samuel Miranda • Saul Castellanos • SHELLYNE RODRIGUEZ • Sofia Maldonado • Tammy Cedré • vagabond  • Vanessa Rodriguez • Virgen Enid Dominguez • Will Rosado • Xavier Muñoz Torres • Yasmin Hernández

Defend PR is a multimedia project designed to document and celebrate Puerto Rican creativity, resilience, and resistance. Recognizing the complex and dynamic landscapes that comprise Puerto Rican daily life and struggle, Defend PR seeks to deepen connections between Puerto Ricans on the island and throughout the diaspora, in the hopes of nurturing greater solidarity, collaboration, and kinship.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/s1eniL-citicien



Dear World,
This is my film No Way Home if you want to watch it, it’s $1.50… If you want to buy it it’s $3… Could i let you see it for free? Sure… But shit cost me $15K to make… and that doesn’t include the labor of my friends and family who worked for free… These co-conspirators are named in the credits of the film, i won’t bore you with names you’ve never heard of (but deserve to be known) and that have no bearing on anything since you haven’t yet seen the film… It would only make this post longer and we all know how shorter is better on the internets… But damn, they are an incredibly talented bunch… and i’m blessed to be able to call them friends and doubly blessed to count them as artistic co-conspirators…
photo by Sam Lahoz

i shot it on film… Yeah film, 100′ rolls of Kodak Vision 3 • 7213 • 500T stock … On a Bolex connected to a battery belt to power the motor… We shot some of it in Queens and Brooklyn and Washington Heights in upper Manhattan in New York City and we shot some in Valley Of Fire in Nevada and in Red Rock Canyon just outside of Vegas… Some more friends of mine who are musicians and also worked for love, not pay… created a beautiful original improvised score… They’re names are in the credits too…


It’s 20 minutes long… It’s about finding god in yourself and in others and fusing the fractured pieces together… It could be a narrative if you believe narratives can be a simple as this… It could also be a non-narrative… i’m too close to know… or care… i hope you like it but i don’t really give a fuck if you do… My friends and i made some beautiful unforgettable memories making the film… and if you watch the film and pay close attention you’ll feel that beauty coming through wrapped up in the images and the sound… Anyway the beautiful unforgettable memories we made are enough with or without a film… There are pieces of this in the film to prove these statements… Watch it… look closely, listen intently, leave yourself open and the reward will come…
i don’t do this film thing for the money… i don’t do it for the love either… Although maybe there’s a kind of love there but if there is, it’s a complicated love… i do this to stay safe, to sane, to stay secure in my own soul, to stay stabile in my own mind… When i’m not making films my blood goes bad, the saliva in my mouth drys up, my muscles get tight and nothing feels right… The demons squat my well being and evict my peace and my worthlessness threatens to rise above my head and drown me… Only making the films eases the pain, reduces the fever, alleviates the ache of feeling too much, makes the waters of worthlessness recede…
Not to say that making the films is not without its own pain, fever and ache… But it’s different… It’s tangible… it’s something that can be touched and held and the problems of filmmaking can all be solved… Unlike trying to find the god within yourself or within someone else and trying to fuse the fracture…
It would be nice if you saw the film… and even better if you got something more than beautiful images and honest poetry and incredible music… It would be good to even make a few dollars to recoup and reinvest into the next film that’s building in me like a storm in the distance ready to test me… again…
No Way Home Sunset Poster
photo by Sam Lahoz design by vagabond

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1P2


M O V E by vagabond ©

31 years ago the Philadelphia Police Department dropped a bomb on the home of the MOVE organization… Six adults and five children were killed and 65 other homes in the area were destroyed due to the fire that consumed the area…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1ON


zapatista by vagabond ©


when we showed ourselves
you dismissed us from sight
and omitted us from memory
when we told our story
the sound got lost
in a maze of cognitive dissonance
when we were unarmed
you attacked us as evidence of
some false superiority

now we cover our faces
and you struggle to remember
what was so easy to forget
our eyes tell a story
that resonates with a frequency
of sound never before heard
we take up arms
because our self defense
will free us first and then you

the new year
was as good an excuse as any
to puncture your bloated illusion
with a violence done right
to return your imperialism
with our anarchy
to rewrite the future
with the missing history
of 500 years

– vagabond ©

Note: April being poetry month i wanted to challenge myself to have a poem with an accompanying piece of art for each day of the month posted on this space… Share what you like… both online and off…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1Jb


Four Baptisms
4 baptisms by vagabond ©

4 baptisms

star dust comes
burning out of the sky
gathering a consciousness
as it falls to the sea


the ocean cools
the surface
and the soul takes a form
that will always thirst

inhale exhale
this is the machinery of living
exhale inhale
duality within the singular corpus

algor mortis
let it go resting in earth
returns us to star dust
to hurtle in space around the sun

-vagabond ©

Note: April being poetry month i wanted to challenge myself to have a poem with an accompanying piece of art for each day of the month posted here in this space… Share what you like… both online and off…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1Io




So attacks in Brussels by ISIS or ISIL or so-called affiliates or whoever the fuck is todays boogeyman are all over the news today… And the faux shock of chickens coming home to roost begins one more time… How could this happen…? How could our white superiority be attacked yet again…? And the talking head faces of white supremacy all say the same thing… Don’t these sand niggers know there place is beneath our heel…? Don’t these camel jockeys know that we can blow them back to the stone age…? Don’t these A-rabs know who they are fucking with…? Of course they don’t use those words but the effect is the same…

How many people on Facebook will change their profile picture to a Belgian flag in solidarity…? Will there be an app that Facebook will make for it…? Will we all feel better now that there is…? Will it assuage the guilt of living off the constant and consistent misery of almost everywhere outside the US, UK and Europe…? Will you donate to the GoFundMe page…? Or send out a tweet with whatever hashtag that comes with each and every act of first world terrorism …?

Every terror attack in London or Madrid or Paris or San Bernardino California is just an occasional appetizer in comparison to the constant feast of violence that London and Madrid and Paris and San Bernardino are serving up in places like Syria or Libya or Nigeria… Terrorism is just another tactic of political negotiation… And the US, UK and Europe have set the terms… They set the terms in 1492 with their racism and their slavery and their imperialism… They set the terms with their settler colonial mentality of white supremacy as their politic… And when that supremacy is challenged using the same tactics that created that very same supremacy the surprise is overdone to to insure that no one sees past the shock to see the guilt…

And for over half an eon the blood bath has been clogging the pipes and overflowing onto a killing floor… And when we try and get out of the tub to reach for a towel to wipe away the horror we slip and stub our toe and scream, ‘who left this blood on the floor where you can slip’…? And then we blame Bin Laden or the Taliban or Al Qaeda or ISIS for stubbing our toe on the history we spilled with the horror we let our democracy create…

In less poetic terms and to make it plain… We vote for Cameron and Bush and Berlusconi and Merkel and Putin and we toy with the idea now of voting for Trump or Clinton (again) and we wonder why they hate our bullshit democracy… We wonder why they hate our capitalist thirst for more than we can need and more than we can hold… We wonder why 99.9999% of them want us to get the fuck out of their country and just just leave them the fuck alone…? And you wonder why 0.00001% of them strap a bulletproof vest on with a thousand armor piercing rounds or drive a car full of explosives into into a cafe, a subway, an airport, a nightclub, a restaurant…

The problem with our bewilderment is that it’s only awakened by acts of terrorism that are close enough to ring in our ears, close enough for us to smell, close enough to choke on the smoke of burning rubber and plastic, close enough to mop up, close enough to bury… Our bewilderment is only shaken when the terrorism is visceral for us… When it’s around our corner, when it’s at our door, when it’s in the cloud of smoke that just won’t clear outside our broken windows, when it’s the sirens we can only see because our ear drums are shattered and we have to pick glass and shrapnel from our body before we bandage our wounds… This is the only time we wonder why… This is the only time the veil of our bewilderment can be lifted…

When the news cameras showed us the refugee grandmother carrying all that she could of her belongings while she held the hand of a child or the crying baby being pulled from the rubble in Libya, or the father in Iraq covered in blood carrying his son into the street, the veil that protected our bewilderment could not be lifted… When Boko Haram slaughtered 2000 Nigerians that was Nigeria, not us, when 147 Kenyans were killed at Garissa University College that was Kenya, not us, when 142 were killed in Sana’a in Yemen that was Yemen, not us, when 22 were killed in the Ivory Coast were slaughtered that was Ivory Coast, not us … The Facebook app to change flags doesn’t come in “African” and the hashtag never went viral on twitter…

Do we remember Aylan Kurdi…? No…? We don’t remember the name of the lifeless three year old refugee boy from Kobanî, Syria, found washed up on the shore of Turkey…? Then i guess we won’t remember Gelani or Rheana..? His five year old brother and his mother who also drowned off the coast of Turkey either… But we remember the Eagles Of Death Metal…? The american rock band that was playing in Paris the night of the attacks… Of course we do… The Eagles Of Death Metal were able to lift that veil that kept our bewilderment under wraps but when the Muslim Mandera Heroes of Kenya stood up to protect Christians on a bus from slaughter by Al Shabab the veil of bewilderment remained because it’s  Kenya… It’s over there… It’s how things are over there…

And now the delayed shock and the bewilderment of the war as it comes home… The karma comes home to nest… The horror that we sent into the world with our democracy, the same democracy that brought us Cameron and Bush and Berlusconi and Merkel and Putin and even our beloved Obama… The most advanced democracies in the world that can only find solutions in misery and terror… The horror returns home like a prodigal son, and we shun it, bewildered at how something like this could exist, unable to recognize that which we created…

We gave birth to this horror… What can we expect when it comes home…? Instead of taking ownership of it we turn it back out into the world to reek more havoc thinking surely this horror doesn’t belong here, surely this horror isn’t ours, surely that belongs somewhere else, surely that belongs to someone else…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1Dp


BUk and vagabond

So the rumors of my death or near death have been only slightly exaggerated – but not without cause… Had a traffic jam in my heart and you all know how much i hate traffic… The blockage in my heart gave a me a heart attack… A combo of inheritance (genetics), good eats (but bad for your health) and filmmaker artist blues (stress)…

So Friday December 18th shoulda been on my tombstone but i have cheated death again… temporarily… at least for now… And now Friday December 18th of 2015 is kind of a 2nd birthday… It’s nice having a 2nd birthday but i wouldn’t recommend it… One is enough for all of us…

i’m in the good and very capable hands in the BX at Montefiore and the nurses and docs here are top notch… Whatever they pay these people it’s not enough… The Filipino, Ghanaian, Jamaican, Trinidadian, Italian, Gambian, Indian, Monserratian, Iranian, Korean, Chinese, Dominican, Puerto Rican hospital crew got my back… All smart and compassionate and tough and on message… i can’t tell you how many of them have told me about how much i have to change my eating habits and lifestyle – they don’t want me coming back – at least not under these conditions

i’ll try my best to make changes… no salt, no sugar, no red meat, no fat… my taste palate just went beige, no flavor, no color, no taste… Not a complete ban on that stuff but everything in moderation – very small moderation… Big changes must come and must come soon… It’ll be hard but i’m a do it… There are too many films asking to be made and asking me to make them and too many places i’ve never been on this big blue marble… And way too many people that would be upset if i don’t make some positive health changes…

But the docs say i’m lucky… Dodged a bullet like Neo in The Matrix… They say my echo is good and miniscule damage to the heart because i got in early… Props to the ambulance driver, she can wheel… (must find her and giver her, her propers)… So i’m good… Was Chillin’ in hospital while they made sure i’m good… They say i should be back on the streets soon…

Home now and chillin’ like the villain that i am… thinking about how to balance the idea of getting more done with my renewed lease on life without being consumed by the stress that broke my heart in the first place… i think the artist has the advantage of having the outlet of art but it also comes with the life long constant and ever imposing reality that you will never be free of art… It’s impossible for the artist to turn off their mind, to stop working, to stop being creative… The artist’s mind is constantly working, constantly scrutinizing the world and trying to make sense of what a life that for the most part has no logic…

Artist’s don’t take daze off… They don’t take vacations… Don’t go on holidaze… Don’t know what it is to leave work behind… The artist mind is always racing and between the pressures of making some kind of living (either with or without your art), family, friends, etc… it can be rough to be stress free… The only time we become stress free is when we finish a project… There’s that momentary satisfaction, that peace, that tranquility of purging the idea… And we enjoy it… It’s a rush that purges the stress… But it’s temporary…

The next idea is creepin’ around and rearing up it’s head and asking what about me…? When are you gonna realize me…? And so it begins again… The fever, the anxiety, the stress, the restriction, the pull, the tightening…

Before my heart attack i would often kill many of these ideas in my head in order to shut them up… How many ideas have been killed…? How much blood is on my hands…? i imagine that there is a room in my head  where i keep the dead bodies of ideas… i only open the door to that room to toss the corpses of artistic ideas in… i never look to see how the dead bodies are piled up or how many there are…

For the past year i have been trying to do two documentaries at once… Harlem’s Last Poet on the life of Last Poet Abiodun Oyewole and Six Shooters about six Puerto Rican teenagers from the 70’s and 80’s who chose camera as their weapon of choice… Been working on a sci-fi script that i’m halfway through writing…  Have to edit a short film tentatively entitled Sacred And Profane shot in the deserts of Nevada this past Spring with my Red Epic… Gotta get a short film we made a year ago called Coney Island Dreaming out to some festivals and see what happens… Trying to adapt an Afro-Futurist novel for the big screen as a potential Hollywood franchise… Some time next Spring a book of posts from this blog will be published by 2 Leaf Press under the name NOTHING TO BE GAINED HERE… And there are other ideas other projects in various stages all calling for attention…

This art thing is a lover… and like all lovers we fight and we make love and we fight and we talk and we refuse to talk and we argue and we forgive… It’s a lover, this art thing, and it will kill me… Art will be the death of me (hopefully)… You have to die of something and art is good way to live and i suppose it’s as good way to die… as good as any other way…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1Bb