As part of the campaign to demand freedom for the artist Danilo Maldonado, known as “El Sexto,” several artistic activities took place this Saturday at la Paja Recold, the studio of the band Porno para Ricardo.
On the walls of the place were works by the graffiti artist who has been incarcerated since last December 25. El Sexto was arrested shortly before carrying out a performance that consisted of releasing in a public square two pigs with the names of “Fidel and Raul.” The crime that has been charged against him is contempt.
Several friends from all over the world and human rights organizations have demanded his immediate release. Yesterday’s activities joined those demands for his freedom. Among the most important moments of the afternoon was the performance by Tania Bruguera of The Whisper of Tatlin which opened the studio’s microphones to the fifty attendees of the encounter to ask for – in a minute each – Danilo Maldonado’s liberty.
The host band Porno para Ricardo, played the lead musical part with several songs from their repertoire. Subsequently rappers including El Opuesto, Maikel Extremo, Rapper Isaac and Lazaro Farise Noise appeared on stage. All demanded the release of the artist and demonstrated solidarity with his cause. Also a book was opened in order to gather signatures of support for the #FreeElSexto campaign. An option paralleling that already implemented on the digital platform Change.org and that is intended for those who do not have access to the Internet.
The artist Tania Bruguera told 14ymedio she had attended the event, “Because I think this is a case of the violation of the artist’s rights.” “It is not right that an artist who did not even carry out the work should be made a prisoner,” she stressed. Bruguera is precluded from leaving Cuba and is in the midst of legal proceedings because of events arising from her attempt to organize a performance last December 30 in the Plaza of the Revolution.
In spite of her delicate legal situation, the artist attended the event in order to offer her support to El Sexto’s cause. Because she says that “An artist that is in jail just for imagining a work and trying to make it, it is an injustice.” About the performance that the graffiti artist would have carried out, Bruguera points out that, “Public figures, whether politicians or celebrities, are likely to be criticized (…) they have to assume that people who do not have that power, they are able to make them aware of their discontent through humor and satire.”
Bruguera quipped that, “If they made prisoners of everyone who makes jokes about Fidel and Raul Castro, half the people would be incarcerated.” And she concluded, “The artist’s freedom lies in having the right to say symbolically whatever he wants.”
Gorki Aguila, meanwhile, explained that, “It is important that artists join together among themselves (…) art has an incredible power to summon.” El Sexto’s grandmother, attending the event, said that, “The right of a man to live as he wants to live must be respected, Danilo does not harm anyone, he respects everyone, but he also asks for respect for himself, that they let him do what he wants.”
With respect to the prison conditions in which this artist has lived, the grandmother says that, “He was sleeping on the floor for two months because for him, as for many other prisoners, there was no bed. They don’t let even an aspirin in. Danilo is chronically asthmatic, he had pneumonia, and they denied him antibiotics.”
The lady also told of the continuing threats by State Security to many of the invitees so that they would not go this Saturday to the tribute to El Sexto. The pressure included the visit of two officers to the home of Gorki Aguila in order to deliver to him a police citation that required him to appear at the police station that same afternoon. The musician refused to go on grounds that a citizen must be given at least 24 hours notice of such an action.
Lia Villares said that during the next Havana Biennial, which will get underway at the end of May, “We are going to do something.” The blogger anticipates that it will be, “A work by El Sexto that was not displayed here today.”
Translated by MLK