Region/Concept: Caribbean, Movement (Flight)
Sub-concepts: Citation, Exile, Transport
Description: Novelist and performer Rita Indiana Hernández records lines of flight in the 2010 album El Juidero.
Many ways to flee—from one island to another, from merengue to rock, from Spanish to English. Flight from one Caribbean rhythm to another and from any musical source—Bob Marley, the Eurythmics, Patti Smith—to the songs on this album by Rita Indiana y los Misterios. The title track’s video, reminiscent of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” focuses on dark deeds carried out in seventies-era clothing. Everything in motion, the lyrics tell us about a real-life move from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico, a border-crossing with no shared border. The circumstances of exile are translated into constant movement, translation, and borrowing (that seems more like stealing).
Posted by: Craig Epplin
Region/Concept: The Caribbean, Movement (Drumming)
Sub-Concepts: Reverberating, Outpouring
Description: In the Dominican Republic palo drums connect the human body to cosmic rhythmicity through repetition of basic sounds, fusing the sacred with the profane.
The drums have an irrefutable connection to thunder. They both reverberate, or relentlessly vibrate, and in this way extend into space, folding it into its sound. The incessant reverberation is their presence through which they conquer space. One could say that palo drums are tamed thunders, which is the only way that the human body can take them in without exploding. Even with these subdued thunders, the body is already taken to its limits. For it is hard not to move accordingly in the presence of the roaring drums. They are capturing chosen degrees of thundering so as to make them closer to the human heartbeat. The result is the production of the cardiac beat. Repetition turns it into an ecstatic body, transformative for the sole reason that it necessitates stepping outside of oneself. A rare demand in today’s world. A primordial demand since the world started by stepping outside of itself: a thunder and a lightning that opened up the infinite unfolding of the galaxies. Thunders we hear during storms are good reminders of that initial crack through which the flow of life ensued. Most creatures still cower when they hear it, unaware why, unaware of their own sensibility to the cosmic vibration. But it would be wrong to think of palo drums as merely a domesticated force of nature, thunder pacified. Rather, it is a force of nature molecularized into controlled tonality that then permeates the listeners and turns them into dancers (a higher form of listeners). Let us not think of this drumming as an obscure practice. There is a geo-affective thread that connects drums to thunders, all the way to that initial rupture, the coruscating sound of cosmic outpouring. In the beginning there was not light; there was a clang.
Posted by: Dejan Lukic
Region, Concept: Caribbean, Movement
Sub-Concepts: Meaning-Overthrow, The Thing, Cruel Play
Description: Rural peasants gather in the forests to practice secret martial art (machete fencing).
Theory: This blade has many histories: an implement of hard labor in the cane fields and rain forests; a mechanism of insurgent action in anti-colonial rebellions; and a transcendent instrument of dream-fighting in hidden gatherings across the island. Creation, destruction, and banality thus converge here (along the sharpened surface): immense narratives of economic misery, political resistance, and otherworldly aesthetics all find their source in the wooden handle of the machete. What is this mad potential housed within the object, the artifact, the thing—that it might serve such mutually exclusive forces? How does the same device that enforces daily toil and emaciation, or which drips with the blood of concrete revolutionary action, now come to associate itself with an outsider art-form (of simulated fatal movement)? What does it take for bare technology to become theater, vision, dance? Nothing less than a colossal semiotic overthrow: that this relic can transition between meanings so seamlessly (part-burden, part-weapon, part-medium), is the sign of a phenomenological breakthrough…for it draws a calligraphic arc from the material to the immaterial, from disenchantment to enchantment, senseless pain to ecstatic pain/pleasure, from deadening everydayness to the secretive, the untold, and the realm of cruel play.
Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh