Shellyne Rodriguez

Friday, January 27, 2017 at 7:00 pm

VCUarts FAB Gallery: 1000 W. Broad St, Richmond, VA

Shellyne Rodriguez is a Multidisciplinary Artist from the Bronx, NY:

“My work is a broke Baroque. A broken Baroque.  Or just Quebrao which is ‘broken’ in “broken Spanish” and an anagram for Baroque so it does the job of being both things in one word… and just like that, its baroqueness hides itself within its brokenness. That subversive way of being two things at once, of carrying within it all of the heavy shit one gets from the Western European canon while flamboyantly displaying its intervocalic consonant, which does everything to point to its class and its Carribean Latino origin is an effort at decolonizing itself.

This ‘being two things at once’ is also a strategy of survival. Because in order to be what it is and be free… somewhat, it must be malleable. It must practice syncretism, which is the art of subversion. And like Santeria hid its Orishas within the Catholic pantheon, it must camouflage itself. And when it fights, its guerilla warfare or its the Capoeira hidden in the dance. My practice is an act, a gesture, a construction, and a narrative of decolonization.

This Quebrao is rooted within the traditions of Hip Hop culture, born of the poor Black & Puerto Rican kids of the South Bronx. Hip Hop is a study in reinvention, in malleability, in pulling from a variety of sources to sample and remix and reinvent. It is a play with language, a pop, a lock, a BREAK. An appropriation of the consumerist lifestyle imposed on a people through advertisement bastardized and spray-painted on trains as rolling billboards. SUBVERSION. The avant-garde arose literally from the ashes of the burning buildings of those South Bronx streets.

A broken baroque as a strategy for survival.

My work is Hip hop because Hip Hop is an artistic practice rooted in decolonization at its essence. Because I am a direct descendant of these poor Black & Puerto Rican kids, and from the South Bronx, this is also my culture. I consider the knowledge accumulated while earning my art degrees, using the DJ as a metaphor, as “one of the many records one might find while “diggin’ in the crates.” Using a variety of sources and mediums, to sample and remix, to think and to make, I take on as my subject how strategies of survival appear in my surroundings. This is often not far away from a study in the despair in my community, or the false hope, which dangles in every corner and vestibule, but also how we as a people sway and bend and duck and run and scream and mend and scratch and break and heal and push forward. And what does that look like? On paper? In an object? As a narrative? As an action? As a sound?”

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