I recently heard about the artwork of Christopher Gregory-Rivera on an episode of the Las Raras podcast. Christopher Gregory-Rivera’s recent work, called “Las Carpetas” (“The Files”), examines the history of government surveillance on the island of Puerto Rico. The “carpetas” he refers to are files with information about Puerto Rican citizens — targets of FBI and Puerto Rican Police Department surveillance over the course of 40 years. These individuals were deemed “politically subversive” or somehow connected to the Puerto Rican Independence Movement.
A Puerto Rican artist based in New York City, Christopher Gregory-Rivera compiled and photographed an impressive number of original documents to create this series, which documents files, photographs, videos and handwritten notes. The result is both aesthetically beautiful and emotionally sobering.
One of the most interesting facts I learned when hearing about “Las Carpetas” is that there is a Spanish verb used in Puerto Rico that came from this time: “carpetear.” This verb is now commonplace and means to gather information on someone, especially for political reasons.
You can learn more about “Las Carpetas” on Christopher Gregory-Rivera’s website, and you can read more about this part of Puerto Rican history in a testimony presented by Ramón Bosque-Pérez called “The FBI and Puerto Rico: Notes on a Conflictive History.”
Image courtesy of buzzfeednews.com.