A Puerto Rican body reaches its breaking point to raise awareness for the Puerto Rican bodies that are no longer with us: this performance was an effort to bring attention to the actual death toll of Puerto Ricans in Hurricane Maria; a death toll that is being denied by the United States President.
I begin the performance fully clothed pacing around the space while shadow boxing in front of the audience. My movements escalate and I eventually begin rolling my body across the space. As my actions become their most violent, I slow down and start to disrobe, one piece of clothing at a time, while reciting the lyrics to the first verse of the song *Venus in Furs* by The Velvet Underground. Each piece of clothing gets spread out on the floor in the shape of a human being; my sweater comes off and is laid out, then the pants are placed where the legs should be, followed by socks and shoes, etc. When I am down to just my underwear I retrieve a canvas board from my bag and use tempera paint to write “2,975” on it with my fingers. I present it to each audience member while I continue my recitation. Once this is done I place the board on a miniature easel and then unfold a large Puerto Rican flag that I present to each audience member as well. I tack the flag to the wall in front of the easel and then begin what is the crux of the performance: I drop to the ground and begin doing push ups, announcing to the audience that I intend to reach 100. I count each push up out loud, my voice becoming more strained due to the stress I am putting on my body. After I accomplish this task I light a red candle and place it in front of the easel and then wrap my body in dark blue linens. I place a homemade crown of thorns, consisting of barbed wire with dozens of carnations weaved into it, on my head. I end the performance by reciting the song lyrics again while I shake a piece of wire with bells attached to it.
The first iteration of this performance was held during the second night at the new Grace Exhibition Space in Manhattan. The above photos are by Polina Riabova and the video was taken by Alex Romania.
The second iteration took place at ART HOLE presented by Satellite Art Fair. Above video and sign photo by Polina Riabova, pushup image and Polaroids by Leone Julitte.
The third iteration included an installation element and was presented at The Clemente during The Identified Self curated by Ventiko.
The final performance of 2,975 happened during The Nexus at 406 curated by myself at The Clemente in 2019. Photos by Nathan Kamp.
2,975 people died on the island of Puerto Rico following the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The Trump administration denies this number, and one has to assume it is in an effort to not hold themselves accountable. They provided almost no aide to Puerto Rico, and actively curtailed many relief efforts. This lack of meaningful response is rooted in the belief “America first”, ironic given that Puerto Ricans are United States citizens. My performance was an attempt to raise awareness of this human rights violation.