Post Arrest 3 / El Sexto – Danilo Maldonado Machado


Fear is a role. You play it how you want. [After el Sexto's t-shirt with Laura Pollan was ripped off him by State Security, he had her face tattooed on his skin, followed by those of other recently deceased heroes of the freedom and democracy movement.]

Faces of the new Cuba. Benedict XVI was in Cuba this week. There, where change is beaten among the Castro reforms and the demands of the famous dissidents, there are also more anonymous people who from their commercial undertakings, their rap music, or their graffiti, modify the face of the island. This is a tour of this new Havana labyrinth.

20 May 2013

El Sexto’s Signature: New on 23rd / Ignacio Estrada Cepero #Cuba

Este es mi Camino Bajando (1)

Este es mi Camino Bajando (2)

Este es mi Camino Bajando (3)

Este es mi Camino Bajando (4)

Este es mi Camino Bajando (5)

Este es mi Camino Bajando (6)

Este es mi Camino Bajando (7)

Este es mi Camino Bajando (8)

By Ignacio Estrada Cepero, Independent Journalist

Havana, Cuba: The Cuban graffiti artist Daniel Maldonado known as “El Sexto” (The Sixth*) has recently plastered his signature in different places along the central 23rd Avenue.

23rd Street in the capital municipality of Plaza, is the site chosen by the Cuban artist recognized for graffiti, to leave his autograph in protest against those who have recently been erasing his work in different public places.

According to recent statements from the artist he is trying to retake the streets again this year and to show that despite government censorship he will continue giving Cuban the gift of a genuine work without government contamination. Recently in a conversation Danilo Maldonado said “…if these little guys keep crossing out my stuff, I will continue crossing out theirs…”

One of the recent signs of El Sexto’s authorship is just a few yards from the central corner of 23rd and L, a writing that reaffirms his will and I quote “…This is my path… Going down…”**

Translator’s notes:
*”El Sexto” takes his moniker — “The Sixth” — as a take off from the “Cuban Five” — five admitted Cuban spies imprisoned in the U.S. and lionized in Cuba (one of the 5 is now on parole).
*”Este calle es de Fidel!” — This street belongs to Fidel — is a slogan commonly used in Cuba in support of the government; it is often shouted at repudiation rallies against dissidents such as the Ladies in White and others.  El Sexto’s take off is “This street/path/way is mine…”

January 21 2013

El Sexto in Honor of Oswaldo Paya / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

The graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado EL SEXTO (Phone +53-53798491) is tatooed with the a living tribute on his skin of the image of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñias (1952-2012), leader and founder of the Christian Liberation Movement and author of the Varela Project to reform the Cuban socialist system. The music is from the CD Concepts and Principles by Silvito The Free, son of the singer-songwriter working in the past, Silvio Rodriguez.

September 13 2012

The Terror of the Controls / Reinaldo Escobar

Since Raul Castro created the position of Comptroller of the Republic a current of panic runs through all the governmental administrative authorities. The cases of corruption, irregularities, diversion of resources and lack of control of state assets emerge like mushrooms after a rain.

However, despite having raised a war against secrecy in the press, the official media does not bring to light either the amount of the damages nor the names of those responsible. Periodically, the rumors, with their quota of inaccuracy or exaggeration, serve to make known the “exploitations,” always accompanied by the little details where we hear of lovers, swimming pools, wine cellars, luxury cars, and all the irresistible temptations — which lead them to perdition — of the old militant Communists, veterans of revolutionary battles, former senior officers, all highly trusted people.

It’s not worth going into the details, especially if they are not confirmed by reliable sources, but it does make sense to ask how is it possible that after half a century of Communist education and countless selective filters, the cadres of different levels continue to have the same appetites enshrined in the old bourgeois morality?

What is wrong? Is it the nature of man himself, or a system based on a profound mistake?

I have the impression that the cases uncovered are not divulged precisely so that citizens do not ask this question; so that they will continue to believe that all is well and that we are on the right path toward higher goals and not will not perceive the swamp nor the fatal attraction that arises from its depths.

22 May 2012

When I’m Bored / El Sexto – Danilo Maldonado Machado

Whenever I’m bored I try so hard to get out of that state that I  think of a new hobby. It seems that boredom makes us aware of the routine, like becoming fully aware of something that is repeated over and over again. So our perception, desperately thirsty for something interesting, goes hunting. I for one think that I sometimes find something to quench the thirst of my attention, but many others, I’m not very aware of it.

I say this because the other day I happened to read a poem by Borges, The Golem. Borges says that the rose being a flower with thorns, leaves, green and red colors, etc. and is reduced to “rose” … and the whole length of the Nile is in the word “Nile.”

I wondered if I could, like a computer program, compiling a lump of things and reduce them to a few non-repeating expressions. To what point could I reduce almost everything to just a symbol or sound?

So it occurred to me to reduce all the speeches of Fidel, of Raul, their crimes, the collapses in the city, the country, the dead, the unpunished abuse of the Ladies in White, all the injustices, the lack of expression, the relentless aging of the rulers, their politics, the real and practical sense of communism, all the hunger and the 53 years of senseless repetition until they become rather boring, all those things in the word, and are just as comical and grotesque onomatopoeia like the sounds of vomiting. Buag: I think that sound could describe it.

4 April 2012

If I Forget Everything… / El Sexto – Danilo Maldonado Machado

El Sexto artwork

What can I say if I forget everything. Nothing, not even that and not the word nothing. So I carry a load of recordings of the past, what was learned. As if every atom in me, unknowingly or unwittingly, has a file in the autopilot.

Everything I see or I suffer first hand I project into the future as an equation of time. So that the present must exist in the past and the future, and vice versa. All three are very close together. There are some codes of my own personality in all this: a) I am somewhat mystical or metaphysical, on the spiritual side; b) I have always above the other charge, the communist, having been raised when the political context was the most important, or almost the only context.

We know well that it is the rulers who manage literature, education and of course the history that will be diligently read by children and students. Still, knowing it makes it difficult to get away from this fucking inheritance to be as free as I feel or even to try to be.

I logically deduce that my lightweight philosophy has an interesting social mix and a varied content in intelligences and historical realities, which from school — and brought into the subconscious later in American movies, especially those of a certain capitalist didacticism, which we have seen the whole time since we were young — have developed in a progressive way: like a thought comes from another inferior to turn itself into a superior, Cuban youth, the not-so-young dissidence and the independent groups of artists, have become a bit of philosophers as well.

All these people try every day to oppose a force majeure (currently the dictatorship) and not only are making the immediate future possible for all of us — not now for our grandchildren — but little by little this handful of rebel minstrels is flowing, and influencing, in this interesting present of the Island. One could say, then, that they are, from the underground, the most legitimate of society, they are the truth in Cuba.

These representatives of authentic Cuba have been Los Aldeanos, working with portable recorders and singing out on homemade equipment. Porno Para Ricardo, with its playful and yet gritty punk rock. OMNI, those performance artists, all of them poets, singers, special as only they are in their Zonafranca. Yoani Sanchez from technology, shining in independent journalism. And the Ladies in White, as a non-governmental social group who for the first time took the streets of Havana in their strong systematic way. All these people describe a true rebellious before and after of social activity in Cuba, up to the newer projects like Estado de Sats.

Countless young people, and those no longer so young, with their perseverance and respect for the work they do, never disappeared nor will they disappear: they are part of the NOW of our reality of technological devices, not State TV, of the most diverse digital media that allowed their immortality, so that no one will forget it.

I remember everything!

17 April 2012