Pure Plantainum (2006)
Pure Plantainum is a series of photographs and sculptures, focusing on an icon that first appeared in colonial Puerto Rican art – the plantain. This icon has signified Puerto Rican cultural and political sovereignty, maligned African ancestry, and masculine identity. He works with these to show how the meaning of symbols change through migration. “In the Spanish speaking Caribbean,” Luciano explains, “the plantain is a signifier of national culture, and is also embedded with layered vernacular references to race and class. As plantation workers were identified by the notorious ‘stains’ that plantains left on their clothing, class and labor associations became increasingly radicalized. For example, one who has dark skin might be labeled as having inherited ‘la mancha del plátano’ or ‘the stain of the plantain,’ a racist colloquialism that persists in vernacular expression, equating blackness to a stain upon skin or culture.”
Pimp my Piragua (2008-09)
Luciano created a ‘pimped’ out version of what is known as a piraguacart, or a shaved-ice pushcart, made with a fiberglass exterior, sound system, and flat-screen monitors. Piragua carts, for Caribbean migrants have often functioned as quick start-up businesses during tough financial times. Luciano’s take on the piragua cart in this highly exaggerated yet still functional manner calls attention to Latino ingenuity, allowing him to parade this marker of Latino history and culture in the midst of rapidly gentrifying urban communities.