Libre y Peligrosa
2019 @ Humacao Grita. Humacao, Puerto Rico.
“Yo le canto a los macharranes
que creen que mandan en mi
Están equivocados porque en mi cuerpo
soy yo quién va a decidir”
Libre y Peligrosa
Humacao Grita is the first urban art festival with an all-women lineup that has taken place in Puerto Rico. We participated in 2019, several months after the famous “Verano combativo” (Combative Summer) so we reflected on the role of women in activism.
In Puerto Rico, protests are called manifestations. Something that reveals to us the spiritual dimension that exists in our movements and struggles as a people. Music is the protagonist in them and plena has a very special place in these spaces where the repetition of choruses invites the crowds to sing and protest in a single voice. Thinking about this as a starting point, we ended up touching on several aspects that are intertwined: the protest/manifestation, the plena tradition, the feminist fight and the experiences of women.
We selected a contemporary plena song titled “Libre y Peligrosa” (Free and Dangerous) by the group Plena Combativa, composed entirely of women. For many years, activism and plena were spaces dominated by men, therefore, by featuring this piece we show how women have reclaimed these spaces.
The mural takes as a reference, very evidently, the “Portafolio de Plenas” conceptualized by Irene Delano and created by Lorenzo Homar and Rafael Tufiño, a portfolio of relief engravings of the most popular plenas in Puerto Rico. They are presented with their title, the score of the music with its verse, and illustrations of the stories of each plena song.
In our mural, “Libre y Peligrosa” is represented following the format of the plenas included in this portfolio and accompanied by images of women dancing, playing and singing this song. The women portrayed are members of Plena Combativa at that time, collaborators of the project and dancers from Colectivo Ilé. Meanwhile, the first section of the mural illustrates “Cortaron a Elena” by Rafael Tufiño. “Cortaron a Elena” recounts an event of gender violence where “they cut Elena and took her to the hospital.” The inclusion of this print in contrast to “Libre y Peligrosa” highlights how the practice and tradition of plena has been reclaimed to empower and fight, distancing us from messages that perpetuate the victimization of women.
Note: It is worthwhile to mention that the group Plena Combativa is currently inactive, but you can find their album on digital music platforms.