Thursday, September 11, 2008

Battle of the Political Air Force One's

Last year Puerto Rican artist Miguel Luciano created a pair of Nike Air Force Ones with the image of Filiberto Ojeda Rios, head of the Puerto Rican Indepencence group Los Macheteros.

Filiberto was murded by the FBI in his home. Miguel Luciano's piece wanted to explore the way that Filiberto had been commodified as a slain revolutionary (similar to the way that Che is commodified on t-shirts) and created these sneakers. The sneakers garnered some mixed feelings (check out Raquel Z. Rivera's amazing piece about the tensions these sneakers bring up at Reggaetonica and here).

Well now the battle of the political A1's on!

Artist Jimm Lasser recently opened his exhibition in New York, with Obama as the theme of the exhibit. "The Obama Force One" is one of the most interesting pieces in the show, with graphics of Obama engraved onto the sole.

What do you all think? Interesting comments on the commidification of "leaders" or just plain commodity?


Greg said...

hey marisol, (and others who will eventually read this)

I first want to give you a big ass (in Borat tongue) "HIGH FIIIVEE" on the blog. Ive been reading it for a little while now and must say, am impressed.

But... getting to the topic at hand. The question I refer to when reading "reggaetonica" and your posts is "How would MLK feel about his 'Holiday' if he were still alive?" I have no doubt that there is a churning of graves (Che's and El comandante Filiberto)with release of such a shoe or mass produced T-shirts due to the condradition of each of their ideals. However, having the goal of reaching youth with social messages through clothing has proven in my perspective to have some positive feedback. Due to our severe lack of Knowledge & truth, by simply placing a photo and flag of an important historical figure will at the very least visually spread some light onto a closed minded America by having people ask "who is that?" or "what is that on your shoe?" And hopefully the wearer of said shoe will know what he is wearing to then pass along the information thus creating SOME dialogue about such a figure. My personal opinion of the Filiberto shoe is that they are HOTTTT! But only because i have taken time to learn about Mi Puerto Rico Lindo and its nationalist movements thus attaining the ability to effectively share the knowledge and history of Ojeda Rios.

Is it just commodity? no because there IS a message behind it, and as in any piece of art is dependant upon the viewer to search for a meaning (whether if it is effective or not is another story). The only request i would have is to show a shoe with more truth, so instead of slapping a picture and puerto rican flag, perhaps the symbol of the macheteros (green machete and red star), or La Bandera de Lares. As for the ever so popular Che T-shirt... at the very least people know the face, thus vaguely knowing his revolutionary cause (only hoping one day wearing a shirt will spark enough interest to decide to look up and learn about his efforts in depth)

As for "Air Obama" no question Pure Commodity, and quite insulting. Because the images are on the sole of the shoe would not only make it impractical, but very racially insensitive, for the more times worn the darker he'll get (esp. in NYC). Plus you will be both literally and figuratively stepping on Barak. Could this possibly be a metaphorical Lynching??? Haha Not really just food for thought.


Open for discussion on the topic.

Marisol LeBron said...

Hey Greg,

Sorry I couldn't respond to your comment earlier, you know how it gets with school.

Thanks for the positive feed back on the blog and thanks for posting this comment.

About the Obama A1s I think its interesting that you see it as insulting because he's on the sole, I hadn't thought about it in terms of stepping on him, squashing him. I actually had this whole corny moment where I though about the way that like if it was raining or something like that an image would reproduce with every step. I though there was something really deep about that. I totally hear what you're saying about the disrespectfulness though, but i think its also interesting to note that the sneaker is NOT being mass produced, so theoretically the shoe will never touch pavement or be underneath someones step.

Its crazy though it definitely points out the ambiguities of commodification.

Thanks for the comment and I hope you're doing well.