Maldito Sea Tu Nombre, Libertad (Cursed Be Your Name, Liberty), Vladimir Ceballos, Cuba / USA, 1995, 60 min
Between 1989 and 1995 over a hundred young Cubans willingly contracted HIV by injecting themselves with each other’s blood. This was an act of political suicide, a protest against a regime that oppressed them with systematic police brutality and dogmatic ideology. What do statistics mean? What does it do to be “out of the statistics?” You are out of history. You literally don’t count. You are an “odd ball.” You are better out of the “public” record. Of the general memory. Of the field of experience.
“All the forms of enjoyment for young people are politicized completely. This form of recreation that we enjoy right now, they’ll say: is thanks to Fidel, is thanks to the revolution. The education system is so thorough in its restriction of thought and imagination that postrevolutionary generations are literally incapable of free thought. And so rebellion takes quite simple forms: disguise, impersonation, suicide.”–Vladimir Ceballos,1994
Beginning in 1989 and up to the mid 1990s groups of young Cuban rock enthusiast [‘roqueros’ or ‘frikis’] were severely repressed by Castro’s regime, which saw their music and aesthetic tendencies as expressions of individualism and “disidencia” against communist ideals. In response to the police’s harassment and incarceration of this sub-culture, a significant amount of these ‘roqueros’––numbers go up to the hundreds––decided to inoculate themselves with HIV to live their short lives inside sanatoria created by the Cuban government to contain the epidemic. Maldito Sea Tu Nombre, Libertad is a raw and urgent document of this phenomenon. Shot secretly over a weekend in 1994 with borrowed equipment this tape presents one of the few existing testimonies of a complex social tragedy that responded to political repression utilizing death by AIDS as an entrance to freedom.
Vladimir Ceballos is a film and video editor based in Providence, Rhode Island. He directed the documentary Maldito Sea Tu Nombre, Libertad in 1994 in Cuba.
Clara López Menéndez is an art worker, practicing in the curatorial field, art criticism, performance, and other writings. She ran the BOFFO Fire Island Art Residency in 2014 and 2015, she is the director of Dirty Looks LA, has done projects in Berlin, São Paulo, and New York, and written for a bunch of magazines including Mousse, Art News, Little Joe and Girls Like Us. In 2016 -17 she will present a two-part project with Andrew Kachel called A new job to unwork at (LACE, Los Angeles; Artspace, New Haven, CT) and No Play, a feminist training camp at the neue gesellschaft für bildende kunst (ngbk) in Berlin.