Jaruco. I'd Like To Walk It.


Vinyl Record, Graphite, Silkscreen, Digital Print
2012





Every year on his birthday my father lies down and walks through a map of Jaruco, Cuba he has kept in his head since leaving to the United States in 1966. This was revealed to me during a phone conversation in late 2011. I immediately mailed him a pad of paper and a set of pencils to draw exactly what he pictures when retracing the streets of his childhood. A few weeks later I received 3 drawings. One describing the home he lived in, one referencing the layout of the town square, and the other a Cartesian birds-eye view of the town. With an unsteady hand streets were laid out in grids interrupted by blocks varying in shapes and the occasional railroad. We then spoke on the telephone and he proceeded to lead me through the streets, starting as though we were standing in front of his home. I followed on the map I had in my hands and he again visualized the landscape only from memory. He describes the homes, the lots, the schools, the businesses, the people, the food, the coffee, the parks, the prison, the cemetery, the rumors, the entertainment, the politics, the divisions of such a small town and what resides just outside of its boundaries.

That sole conversation was then etched into a one-off vinyl record. A current satellite image was manipulated to serve as a point of reference to his drawings. I enlarged his drawings and re-traced his marks on Vellum. I then drew the path that he leads the listener through in the town.

The map of Jaruco my father visualizes in his head does not mirror the ultra-realistic satellite imagery of the same location. North may not be north. There is a falsehood to maps, a perceived truth we accept when viewing a survived or photographed landscape that does not account for personal experience. On his map he also drew a legend that does not solely reference customary physical locations, but sites that contain stories. It’s not a park, it’s where he disobeyed his mom and sat on benches with convicts talking about moving to the United States. The X and Y coordinates might alter with time, the stories may become faint, physically redrawing the map can become impossible, but the belief of those memories will always be true. There is a falsehood to maps, unless it is your own.