Single-starred black and white flag: “It’s not mourning, is resistance”

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80grados’ Julieta Victoria Muñoz Alvarado recently published an article—“Monoestrellada blanca y negra: ‘No es luto, es resistencia’” [Single-starred black and white flag: “It’s not mourning, is resistance”]—about the Puerto Rican artists’ movement Artistas solidarios y en resistencia [Artists in solidarity and resistance]. The article quotes a recent (7 July 2016) open letter published by the collective, Carta abierta: Un llamado a la solidaridad. In 2012, the collective had painted a mural with the Puerto Rican flag (with in its full red, white, and blue glory) on a wall on San José Street in Old San Juan; more recently, the flag was re-done in black and white, to express mourning for the island and its troubles. More than anything, this and other recent artistic actions are a call to unity and resistance. Here are a few excerpts with a link to the original article (in Spanish) below:

In that instance, [says] the Open Letter, “[….] [the flag] was painted with the intention of promoting national identity, and the local and international attention has been incalculable.”

Then the flag was painted in black and white, so that any passerby on San José Street can see it, and it was done because of the national and international attention that the original image on the mural of the single-starred flag with red, white, and sky blue had garnered. The Open Letter states, “We decided to reclaim the door the night of Monday, July 4, 2016, knowing that this door would be transformed into a portal that would lead to discussions on the social, economic, and political crisis facing the island.” [. . .]

Then we painted the inscription “La resistencia no tiene miedo. ¡Únete!” [The resistance is not afraid. Join in.] on a mural on Baldorioty Avenue, adjacent to the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico, with a black and white flag on the left, and then we added a black and white flag on the right”—a matter of composition and design. “Now, soon, there will be more murals and other activities, starting with conversations with artists inside and outside of Puerto Rico, because “the plan is that artists also react, and some members of the collective travel, so wherever they go, convey their own statements,” referring to murals and other inscriptions related to the message of resistance.

One of the artists of the collective Artists in solidarity and resistance expressed: “The act itself is an act of resistance, contestatory art. For these artists, mourning, lamentation, and tears were left behind. Our sentiment is one of struggle, resistance—stronger than before, because we received the fatal blow quite some time ago. We do not want to repeat the same mistakes, and that is the message we want to promote. It is a struggle starting from our own homes and our communities, since change begins at home, through our daily actions; through how I express myself to others without hatred; through working tirelessly to fight disarticulation, misinformation, fear and frustration. As long as we love and value ourselves, there will be hope.”

Who are the artists in the collective Artists in solidarity and resistance? All, or almost all, are artists over 30, graduates of the School of Visual Arts and Design (EAPD), from all departments: Industrial Design, Fashion Design, Photography and Design, Photography and Motion, Sculpture, Painting, Graphic Arts, and Art Education. It is, one might say, a generation of artists who graduated from EAPD between 2008 and 2016. The artists with whom we spoke said: “THE EAPD graduates people committed to culture” [. . .].

On July 20—sixteen days after painting the mural door (July 4 at night) and creating the black and white flag—we chatted with some artists from the collective [who said]: “Replacing with black (which is the absence of LIGHT) creates new readings. Ours is a proposal for RESISTANCE; not pessimistic, on the contrary, it speaks about the death of these powers as we know them, but the hope is still there represented in white stripes that symbolize freedom of the individual and the ability to claim and make assert our rights.” This open letter, in Spanish and English, will be posted on the wall where black and white flag is located, on San José Street in Old Viejo San Juan, so that pedestrians will have the opportunity to read it.

[Other phrases and logos will be painted round the city, appealing to more people.]

[. . .] And after the black and white flag, the “La resistencia no tiene miedo. ¡Únete!” mural, and the “¡Descolonízate!” [Decolonize] mural (a wink to José de Diego’s poem “En la brecha”), there is a fourth statement that “it is being planned,” but it will be a surprise.

Along with these activities, there is a plan “to paint another ‘door flag’ in New York; to create a logo, and a small logo as a reference to the artists’ collective, which will also appear on Facebook to report on what we are doing and to communicate any needs of materials we may need but may not be able to afford on our own.”

[. . .] The collective Artists in solidarity and resistance functions as a living organism that holds meetings once a week in which “everyone brings ideas to the table to be honed and the person who brings the idea directs that meeting, with the support of the group.” And this “group” is made of “friends [. . .] who realize that there is something very wrong going on, and we wonder how to help. We want to do something, without pressure or pretension, do something where we can, from the trenches we trust in what we do best. In Puerto Rico something unheard of is going on.”

This collective is guided by its position of being “against the creation and presence in Puerto Rico of the Board of Tax Structuring; spraying with Nadel; and in favor of decolonization.” [. . .]

[. . .] And the artists proclaim: “The flag is in black, Puerto Rico is ready to fight! Let it be known!”

[Photo from http://www.univision.com/noticias/arte-y-cultura/por-que-pintaron-de-negro-y-blanco-la-famosa-puerta-de-la-bandera]

For full article (in Spanish), see http://www.80grados.net/monoestrellada-blanca-y-negra-no-es-luto-es-resistencia/

Also see related article: https://globalvoices.org/2016/07/17/puerto-ricos-flag-is-black-and-in-mourning-over-us-imposed-oversight-board/

2 thoughts on “Single-starred black and white flag: “It’s not mourning, is resistance”

  1. Are you accepting patriotic poetry?let me know where I can send them. I want to participate in the struggle for Puerto Rico and it’s natural right to exist as a nation. Remember David and Goliath. God bless.

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