Bobby Marines: CascarÓnes

Review by Jordan K. Thomas

Soo Visual Arts Center
Mar 10–Apr 14, 2018

A cascarón is a brightly decorated hollowed-out egg filled with confetti—or glitter or sequins or little toys—and is then either crushed on the head of the unsuspecting target or hurled at them with enough force for the egg to erupt in a shower of confetti or glitter or sequins or toys or maple syrup or pickle juice.

In other words, a cascarón is a false thing.

It is a false thing like the empty words of politicians who cower before the wallets of the gun men.

It is a false thing like the surge of care and empathy for the victims of the opioid epidemic now that they are white, while no such empathy existed for the black victims of the crack epidemic or for the brown victims of the government’s involvement in said epidemic. It is a false thing like saying that a boy playing with a plastic gun is a threat, that a man in his backyard with a cellphone in hand is a threat, that a man in the process of showing his ID to an officer is threat.

We are surrounded by so many cascarónes, by so many brightly-decorated lies that contain nothing but scrap. But Bobby Marine’s Cascarónes stand apart. They do not contain confetti. They do not explode into a glittering cloud.

Instead, in his Cascarónes, I see the pockmarked brown arms of the addicted, the needle-scars between their brown toes, the pain in their brown bodies when the thing that takes their pain away has left them, as it always does, until it doesn’t and then there’s no more pain at all.

I see the brown children killed by the greed of the few, more today, more tomorrow, more in all the days to come. I see a brown boy who has taken the gun to himself and has turned his face into a gaping maw where a face was because what he struggles with is invisible, lurks inside his mind, and he wants it out.

Or maybe his face that exists no longer vanished in an instant at the accidental pull of a trigger left unsecured.

Or maybe the bullet that broke him was a stray, a lost thing in search of rest, much like the brown boy himself and, now, they’ve both found what they were looking for, safe in death as they never were in life.

Or maybe—more likely—it wasn’t a stray at all, but a bullet sent from the barrel of a gun in the hand of a white man in blue because this brown boy was a brown boy alive in the world and that is reason enough for execution.

Bobby seeks to crush these Cascarónes over our heads to cover us in the truths held within and the reality most ignore, and to have that cling to us like glitter so that we continue to find them in places we wouldn’t expect, in moments we couldn’t predict. He wants us to see the love in a needle’s escape and the freedom in a bullet-broken skull. He wants us to see the few that control the fate of the many and the blood on their hands of so many children, so many people, so many of the lost and losing.

They have others to wash their hands for them, to cleanse them of their actions, to protect them from ever seeing, touching, hearing the dead and the dying.

But, remember: A cascarón is delivered as a surprise, an attack on the unsuspecting. And Bobby knows that we cannot ignore what we can’t see coming.