December 2014, Red. Digital Collage. 2015.
I would like to thank Duke University's Program in Latino/a Studies in the Global South and Professor Claudia Milian for the opportunity to make work and share it with you. As virtual resident, I approached the December Arrob@ blog as a metaphoric locket, a jewelry format traditionally operating as an object of adornment.
Housing private information, the Arrob@ locket is a site that digitally hinges a relational exchange between the artist and audience. Formerly a physical act, the experience of relating the value of the locket’s contents is done by accessing the blog, creating a window into the artist’s embodied experience. These sites of exchange—how information is transferred from the artist to Arrob@ to the audience—are indeterminate and expansive. Distance is simultaneously negated and substantiated by digital space. Intimate encounter is maintained through public disclosure, which opens the work to those who the artist would otherwise not meet.
Equally, the anonymous nature of the digital exchange allows a viewer to consider how one’s experiences with race and gender are or are not informed by the locket.
If you would like to engage in conversation and/or share your thoughts, feel free to contact me.
10:16 am, December 31, 2014, Glass Bridge. Digital Collage.
9:45 am, January 1, 2015. Polaroid.
I step through the space,
inorganically conforming ‘round me.
Glass walls and floor
Trapped and free
My heart beats
11:44 pm, December 30, 2014, Studio. Digital Collage.
7:20 pm, December 31, 2014. Polaroid.
Away from family and friends,
time is still.
No shadow, no sound, no distraction.
It is easy to disappear.
Yet, I am waiting.
4:29 pm, December 29, 2014, Columbus Avenue. Digital Collage.
9:12 pm, December 30, 2014, Polaroid.
Encountering well wishes from far off places
printed on pretty paper,
I walk home.
A daily routine.
Weather passing by.
1:20 am, December 28, 2014, Shower. Digital Collage.
8:54 pm, December 28, 2014, Polaroid.
Conversation to touch,
casual and quivering.
Excitement laid bare.
I misread my watch.
Minutes were hours.
Parting he said, “you smell so good.”
3:20 pm, December 27, 2014, Northern Avenue. Digital Collage.
8:24 pm, December 27, 2014, Polaroid.
I would breathe on ice cream
cooled air rise from the rare treat.
It was as close to snow as you could get at the end of the world.
11:15 pm, December 26, 2014, Southwest Corridor Park. Digital Collage.
11:22 am, December 27, 2014, Polaroid.
The smell of smoking meat mixes with the stagnant summer heat.
I fall over a rock.
The words lift me and I seek cover.
9:38 pm, December 25, 2014, The Public Garden. Digital Collage.
11:01 am, December 26, 2014, Polaroid.
Fragrant pine, jingling bells and mulled cider.
Signs of the holidays
aroma of menudo, chatter at a tamalada and buñuelos with syrup of cinnamon.
8:29 am, December 24, 2014, Stairwell. Digital Collage.
9:54 pm, December 24, 2014, Polaroid.
Little tail of the frog.
When everything tastes like metal,
When my eyes are tinged yellow,
When I feel pain deep within,
I sing those words to myself.
7:54 pm, December 23, 2014, Skywalk. Digital Collage.
2:24 pm, December 24, 2014, Polaroid.
It happened so quickly.
From my reach
To his withdrawing hand.
“It isn’t safe.”
The air is what we shared
4:39 pm, December 22, 2014, Commonwealth Avenue. Digital Collage.
12:23 am, December 23, 2014, Polaroid.
Adrift in the rain,
I move with urgency.
“If you can’t afford to ruin ‘em, then you can’t afford ‘em.”
Wisdom I recall
reflecting on my soaked soles.
The rain resumes.
3:01 am, December 21, 2014, Water Street. Digital Collage.
11:57 pm, December 22, 2014, Polaroid.
In shouts and anger, I grabbed my coat.
A thicket was shelter for the night.
Still, cold feels colder
away from home.
I want to hide.
11:47 pm, December 20, 2014, RockBar. Digital Collage.
10:37 pm, December 21, 2014. Polaroid.
“Tell me when you’re here.”
Tracing our bodies,
A soft glow from a window broke the dark.
Door, stairs, turn,
turn, stairs, door.
7:32 am, December 19, 2014, Power Line. Digital Collage.
1:35 am, December 20, 2014, Polaroid.
One, two, three, four, five made fists.
He pulled me off my brother.
“This makes you a man,” he said.
It’s a story he tells,
forgetting to mention my tears and shame.
6:41 pm, December 18, 2014, Brattle Street. Digital Collage.
11:02 pm, December 18, 2014, Polaroid.
Lying in place turned shallow grave.
Broken by its frame, I was dead.
A veil of soil brushed away.
Asked, “… your name?”
9:55 pm, December 17, 2014, Main Street. Digital Collage.
11:57 pm, December 17, 2014, Polaroid.
A track to the rear of the room
To faintly hear lessons while coloring outside of the lines.
Apart from blue jays and cardinals, I was a yellow bird.
When schools did that sort of thing.
8:32 am, December 16, 2014, Subway Car. Digital Collage.
7:42 pm, December 16, 2014, Polaroid.
We all have somewhere else to be,
Troubles at work, favorite recipes, the weather
noise I hear without my earphones.
I move deeper into the car.
“Thank you sir,”
interrupts my train of thought.
3:54 pm, December 15, 2014, Doctor’s Office. Digital Collage.
9:13 pm, December 15, 2014, Polaroid.
Routine: throat, chest, abdomen, hands, feet, blood, urine, spit.
“Still doing what you do?”
Every 90 days.
A life in PrEP.
11:17 pm, December 14, 2014, Crossing Mystic River. Digital Collage.
11:43 pm, December 14, 2014, Polaroid.
A train. A car. A short walk.
Neck. Ear. Gentle embrace.
A pile of clothes growing.
My hands in his.
“What’s your background, anyway?”
7:51 pm, December 13, 2014, El Potro. Digital Collage.
10:43 pm, December 13, 2014, Polaroid.
“They like the flour ones,” I heard.
A hand reached to switch the tortillas.
No, I wanted the corn.
Quizzical smiles met my words.
10:25 pm, December 12, 2014, The Alley. Digital Collage.
12:47 am, December 13, 2014, Polaroid.
He spoke of Paris.
Pressing against my side, asking had I been to Istanbul.
“Do you know the joy of getting lost?”
A gesture that was more invitation than denial,
I looked away.
“Where are you from … really?”
2:55 pm, December 11, 2014, Office. Digital Collage.
10:45 pm, December 11, 2014, Polaroid.
Through glib comments, hushed punch lines
I sat uneasily.
My appearance deceived.
It was never about me.
2:26 am, December 10, 2014, Route 16. Digital Collage.
6:15 am, December 10, 2014. Polaroid.
Just before I hear leaves rustling, wind murmuring
at its quietest I leave my body.
“I’m not ready.”
I am there. I say goodbye.
5:42 pm, December 9, 2014, Station Landing. Digital Collage.
7:35 pm, December 9, 2014. Polaroid.
I loved the rain.
Pelting my skin. Cooling sultry summer days.
I feel the ache in my knee.
9:28 am, December 8, 2014, Classroom. Digital Collage.
4:57 pm, December 8, 2014. Polaroid.
Hot. Humid. Hard times. I heard stories about Ahmerahcah.
I believed it was real.
It was a place you didn’t want to go.
12:44 am, December 7, 2014, Home. Digital Collage.
3:15 pm, December 7, 2014, Polaroid.
I recall sleepless nights.
The discomfort of my arm without a place to belong.
I have rest and things I thought gone.
And I smile again.
8:44 pm, December 6, 2014, North Cambridge. Digital Collage.
11:15 pm, December 6, 2014. Polaroid.
A grin. A coy glance.
My body beckoned him.
With ease I had my way.
I made my love cry
though I never told him.
12:08 pm, December 5, 2014, Newbury Street. Digital Collage.
5:45 pm, December 5, 2014. Polaroid.
“Go back to where you came from”.
The back of my neck. My hand found spit. It was so quiet.
“Shave your beard … carry your passport wherever you are,” a friend advised.
1:54 pm, December 4, 2014, Gourmet Heaven. Digital Collage.
9:45 pm, December 4, 2014. Polaroid.
I was invisible. It was my super power.
“He’s so big. I don’t know how I can love someone that fat,” read the journal entry in familiar handwriting. It was in a box labeled “books”.
I didn’t know at the time…everyone made fun of me.
4:57 pm, December 3, 2014, Providence. Digital Collage.
6:10 pm, December 3, 2014. Polaroid.
My head rests against the window. Exhausted. I stare at the world passing me. I fantasize of places where I could be. Anywhere other than this train. I miss the sun. Blinding. I think of home.
11:30 am, December 2, 2014, Leaving Boston. Digital Collage.
7:37 pm, December 2, 2014 (reshoot). Polaroid.
I wore grey wool trousers. Relief from unfastening the buttons and disrobing for a shower dissolved to dismay. I was marked with red impressions along my midsection. The pants looked sharp. I knew they were tight. I wore them anyway.
6:42 am, December 1, 2014, Wellington Circle. Digital collage.
5:49 am, December 1, 2014. Polaroid.
Ugh. It’s just a number. It doesn’t have morality. It tells me that I’m here and this is how much I weigh. Nothing more. I feel like it hates me. It knows I ate a whole pecan pie.
On the top left corner of my smart phone, a cartoon bear smiled at me. It was familiar. The Growlr logo. And its presence meant I had a message. I opened the application. “I love your colour”. As salvo, a way to grab my attention, this message was curious. What exactly did the sender mean? I can’t know what he was thinking. The words, however, kept playing over and over again in my head.
An explanation came after sharing the message with family and friends. My profile image spoke to him. It asked, “do you love my color?” His reply made me visible. I am color and color yearns for recognition. Uncomfortable with what was reflected to me in his words, I am using the blog space to investigate my color and how it communicates.