Friday, April 13, 2007

Meditations on sneakers and bling by Miguel Luciano

These Filiberto Ojeda Uptowns / Machetero Air Force Ones by New York visual artist Miguel Luciano come right after his Pure Plantainum series. Both projects have captured my interest because they touch on two of the top consumer items related to the hip-hop and reggaeton industrial machine: sneakers and bling.

The Filiberto Ojeda Uptowns / Machetero Air Force Ones are part of a show that opens at Bard College this coming Sunday, April 15. Also on Sunday, 2:30—4:30 pm, Miguel Luciano and other renowned New York Rican artists will talk about their work at The Newark Museum.

For me, it hurts to look at Filiberto—icon of armed struggle for Puerto Rican independence assasinated in 2005 by the F.B.I.—emblazoned all over these sneakers. I find this piece to be an insightful and deeply disturbing commentary on our consumption-obsessed lives, particularly painful in the context of Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship to the United States.

Below, is Luciano's statement on the piece:

The Filiberto Ojeda Uptowns / Machetero Air Force Ones are a customized pair of Nike sneakers that pay tribute to the assassinated leader of the Macheteros, a clandestine group of Puerto Rican nationalists who've campaigned for independence in Puerto Rico since the 1970's. Filiberto Ojeda was brutally assassinated by the F.B.I. on September 23, 2005 and has since been revered by many as the "Puerto Rican Che Guevara". A pair of Nike sneakers become an unlikely vehicle of veneration for the fallen leader that both complicate and question how nationalism and resistance are embodied within today's colonial consumerist society. Nevertheless, they engage alternative strategies towards reconstructing symbols of resistance from the objects of material desire, while questioning the commodification of Revolution. The Machetero Air Force Ones transform Nike's Swoosh logo into a ready-made Machete symbol, as the mantra of Nike's "goddess of victory" gives way to "hasta la victoria siempre".

"just do it".