yasmin hernandez


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"Yo seria borincano aunque naciera en la luna" -Juan Antonio Corretjer
(I would be Puerto Rican even if I were born on the moon)

Bieké: Tierra de Valientes is a tribute to Viequenses who have had to battle for peace and justice. The project title is borrowed from the legacy of Carmelo Felix Matta, founder of Monte Carmelo, “Tierra del Valiente,” representing all valiant Viequenses from Monte Carmelo and beyond. It also references the indigenous name of Puerto Rico, Boriken, which roughly translates to “land of the brave.” Being born in Vieques was not a prerequisite for the individuals featured and celebrated in this project. Most young Viequenses did not have this honor. Laboring Vieques mothers were forced to board a plane or ferry to the main island to give birth. For this reason, many of the featured Valientes were born in Fajardo, while others in St. Croix or beyond. Being a Viequense, as a result of the US Naval occupation, has become a matter of choice—whether born in a faraway place and having relocated here, spending more than half your life in Vieques; whether committed to the struggle for peace & justice and having relocated to Vieques from the big island; or whether you had to leave Vieques to earn a college degree but, despite the lack of opportunities, you chose to return and serve your community. These Valientes, along with those that had the honor of actually being born in Vieques, are here by choice. They do not have the option of only flying here for the winter. They are the ones who withstood the sonic boom of foreign bombs. They are the ones who withstand disproportionate cancer rates and napalm and uranium contamination. They are the brave ones, truly loyal and committed, that have made this island, its history, its struggle, its legacy, its triumphs, its melancholic beauty, their home. This project is an attempt to visually capture their commitment and valor for the sake of honoring it and sharing it with others that can benefit from their example. Initiated in the wake of two commemorations—the death of Ángel Rodríguez Cristóbal (November 11, 1979) and the death of David Sanes (April 19, 1999), both lost as a result of the US Naval occupation —this project reflects on these two watersheds in Vieques’ recent history. It also focuses on the island’s present struggles and is informed by a series of interviews conducted of over 30 Viequenses. Bieké: Tierra de Valientes was developed as a gesture of love and solidarity from a transcendent place in the Diaspora of Boricuas extending from Vieques to Ponce, to New York City, to the moon! View project statements and gallery using the buttons below!

The Bieké project was made possible with grants from The Puffin Foundation, Ltd. Teaneck, NJ, NALAC Fund for the Arts--supported in part by the Ford Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Southwest Airlines, a Research Travel/ Puerto Rico Diaspora Grant, CUNY-Caribbean Exchange Program, The Center for Puerto Rican Studies. New York, NY and The George Sugarman Foundation, Inc. Novato, CA.

© Copyright 2010, Yasmin Hernandez. Under no circumstances should any of the images or content of this site be downloaded, printed or reproduced without direct permission from the artist.