besos not bombs


DJ Lucha is a Latina Armenian American adopted into a German Jewish family raised in the frontera of San Diego and Tijuana spending her young adult life documenting hip hop and turntablism in SF in the 90's living between SF and Asia. In her later adult life, she decided to get back to her own roots and spend summers in East Harlem "El Barrio" Bronx y Brooklyn to get more in touch with Nuyorican culture and the music of "mi gente" - her people.

Growing up with a mixed race and cross-cultural background lead Lucha to speak a language she calls "Jaspanglish," a combination of Japanese, English, and Spanish. Language, afro latin roots, politics, and street culture all play an important role in her work.

Lucha grew up during the height of the hip hop and punk rock era influenced by East coast hip hop b-boy/girl culture culture, graffiti, raw photos from Glen e Friedman and art from Jean-Michel Basquiat. Subjects of her work range from identity, roots, race, genocide, and marginalized people struggles to the documentation of breakin, skateboarding, and underground street culture worldwide. A completely untrained artist, she combines the "calle" element with that of the village y folk traditions.

DJ Lucha has self-produced two mix cds. The first, "La Lucha de Amor," is a testament of love and heartache in the language of Fania ballads, rhumba jams, and new Latin rhythm makers, plus all of their influences. It is a live-mixed showcase of Lucha's ability not to just play a genre or kill the dance floor, but spin a narrative with a Latin tip.

In addition, she has a degree in cultural anthropology and Southeast Asian studies from UCSC where she completed her year long thesis while living in a village before the uprisings in Indonesia in the nineties. While living in Java, she documented ghost stories and their relation to contemporary Indonesian religion ,taboos, contemporary Islamic culture and played gamelon music with the village elders.

In the late nineties, she spent several years living in Tokyo writing about street fashion and underground Tokyo trends and working as a hip hop photographer for Tommy Boy Records, Tokyo with English photographer Andy Beezer. She also worked as a VJ in a mix of Japanese hip hop and punk rock clubs for Kazenohito Bito, filming and photographing the pioneers of Japanese hip hop and her crew in Tokyo - as well as participated in graffiti shows and wheat-pasting the streets of Harajuku.

Just as her career was taking off she was stricken with a near death illness, and was forced to return to SD at a time when "Blackmarket," Shepard Fairey and Kinsey's company, was a strong presence in the city and street art shows like "modest behavior" were on the rize. Lucha was invited to participate in close to a 100 shows with some of the worlds top graffiti artists - displaying her large scale wheat paste style photography mixed with spray can drips and stencils. In addition she put on one SD's first street art markets called "de la calle" with headliners like Acamonchi, Surge, Big Foot, Kelsey brooks and DJ's such as tribe of kings.

Shortly after, the war on Iraq broke out. Still Fighting illness, she continued to march in local anti war and immigrants rights protests. With no end in sight and discouraged by American conservatism, she left the country to live in the political "Gracia District" of Spain where she had been invited to live with the owners of "garage gallery", selling art in the streets where anti-war protests and anti-war anti-imperialist sentiment was on the rise. There, she spent several months creating a new body of work and the clothing line Besos Not Bombs.

Besos not Bombs first shirts were printed on used army thrift store t's that had Latino soldier's names on the backs. The military and the war had two major downfalls, people were going to war for citizenship and on the borders this was becoming more and more common. Latinos/ Boricuas on the frontlines, propaganda in our schools.

"Growing up on the border, immigration has always been an issue I am interested in. What people are forced to do to get a supposed piece of 'freedom' y citizenship. I also documented and built several shrines over the years in galleries in SF LA SD and mexico and in the streets to educate the public on what was happening on our borders to the women who were being brutally murdered in Juarez".

In 2003 Besos Not Bombs went on a world wide tour with "Yo! Whatever happened to peace?" as well as was published in the book, DJ'ing shows including Propaganda , Machine Gun in the Clowns Hand, LA vs War, and many major anti-war anti-imperialist shows that were a response to the US government post 911.

She was involved in several Latino films festivals , published in Bellas y Brujas - a border spoken word zine, worked with border artist Gomez Pena, Perry Vasquez' "Keep on Crossing" campaign, had 2 self produced afro latin meets hip hop cd's, installations at Voz Alta, the MOPA, SD MOMA y participated in Cheech Marins traveling show "Chicano Visions."

Shortly after Besos Not Bombs was created, she produced events such as "Viva La Salsa" a strictly vinyl fania- themed weekly event which started in 2004, "Let's chill! real music real people", followed by the Besos weekly pop up shop - a speakeasy store that popped up in a predominately Latino neighborhood inviting teens to come hang out in a place free of drugs alcohol or gangs to talk politics and create with political artists and DJs, encouraging them to get involved in protests along the borders.

Lucha has since started the youth program "The Youth Shall Set Us Free!" an uplifting project encouraging youth to embrace their roots , speak their own languages and be proud of where they are from and the heroes that were born out of their cultures. This program introduces revolutionary figures and political hip hop artists to youth who have been kicked out of their schools or put in juvenile detention centers and also teaches them basic documentary film and photography skills.

Current projects include a Besos Not Bombs street photography book in the works, art direction on a feature length hip hop film, producing a documentary on border culture, looking for a new space, and raising funds for "The Youth Shall Set Us Free" program. Lucha is also a regular participant in "Art n Soul", international dj gigs, and of course new designs for Besos Not Bombs!

"If the atmosphere of America is waging war on terrorism and feeding consumerism, the most direct way to get messages through to the average person is to make signs out of what it is people want to consume, cultural ammunition on cloth! The average person here is so blind to see what is really going on in the world - they still think that el Salvador was the US saving the people from communism - they don't realize that hundreds of women have been violently murdered at our borders for the past decade, and they believe the Jewish holocaust was one of the only genocides. What they don't see is that the current situation is all a mask for indigenous genocide so the man can get his cash. History just keeps repeating itself. Humanity has taken on this sense of helplessness and loss of hope. Those of us who have an opportunity have to use our voice, our Voz Alta. Artists shouldn't just masturbate on canvas. They have a responsibility to the people to educate and reveal the secrets and the history the media hides. We can be our own media. History has always had this! Look at Frida, she wasn't the sickly, macabre artist that she is often portrayed as- she was a revolutionary marching in the streets until the day she died. She expressed her pain, but she also felt a sense of responsibility for the people. La Lucha Sigue!"