Charlie Ramirez channels one his artistic influences, Marcel Duchamp, in this piece of video art. He creates a readymade with a skateboard and a blank canvas, which he holds while riding the board through a city. The camera documents the artistic performance as Ramirez as he “sails” across the recently devastated streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico after Hurricane María hit the island. This short film transmits a sensation of sadness, Ramirez nomadically wanders through the city, the video intrigues the viewer with hope that the artist will eventually arrive safely to his unknown destination. Ramirez’s readymade assimilates a sailboat and an exodus, emblematic of the incalculable number of Puerto Ricans who were left homeless after the hurricane and had to leave the island to survive. Even a year after the storm hit the island statistical data continued to skyrocket and exact numbers are still unavailable. As for those who did not – or could not – leave it was reported that more than 45,000 families were still living under blue tarps (Reuters, 2018) and according to a FEMA press release, 166,000 homes were still being rebuilt and repaired (FEMA, 2018). The artist intends to communicate historical facts through this work: It took 326 days, roughly 11 months, to officially restore power to an island home to 3.4 million American citizens (Campbell, 2018). And no electricity meant that sewage systems and water pumps couldn’t function. A lack of water, electricity and public services led to an absence of basic needs and poor quality of life which then led to a physical and mental health epidemic on the island. The result was an increase in the island’s murder rate and a suicide crisis.  This work of art symbolizes the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans that have been forced to leave their homeland because of a faltering governmental and economic infrastructure.  Extra - D creates a dialogue on this issue, and leads the viewer towards the undeniable question: Why did it take so long to bring these basic needs back to Puerto Rico? The reason: a lack of planning on part of the Puerto Rican government and mismanagement of funds due to its corruption. The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at the City University of New York predicts that 470,335 locals will leave the island by the end of 2019. The title of this video stands for the terms “Extreme Disaster”, “Extraditing” and “Exodus”. This video functions as a way for the artist to vent his frustrations, but also to highlight that even though the hurricane was an uncontrollable natural disaster, the true disaster lies in the aftermath. Years of failure within nearly every level of the Puerto Rican government led to more than 4,600 deaths. The Hurricane served as a looking glass for a rotten infrastructure. Although this piece depicts an upsetting truth, the artist also intends to transmit positivity and optimism. The blank canvas he carries symbolizes a new begging and fresh start for the island. Ramirez hopes that this conceptual piece will raise local and international awareness on these problems and inspire change.  

Extra - D, 2018 - 2019
Ready Made (Skate board, Blank canvas)
Short film 1 min. 58 sec.
©2019 by Charlie Ramirez

©2023 Charlie Ramirez | Designed by Christina Roig. San Juan, PR