Raafi Riveroimages and ideas

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Raafi Rivero is a filmmaker and photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. Click here for professional inquiries.

These missives have been posted at varying intervals since 2006 when “moblogging” was a thing. Please explore work and ideas here, elsewhere, or on the social platform of your choice:

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We installed the full suite of Unarmed jerseys on Lafayette Street between Houston and Canal this past Friday. See pics of the entire run here, or, better yet, head over to Manhattan to see them in person.

UPDATE – The SoHo installation was recently covered in Yahoo Sports and Design Observer.

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These are dark times for the empire. My UNARMED project made its public debut on Flatbush Avenue last week. Installing the prints and seeing the reaction of fellow Brooklynites was among the most gratifying experiences I’ve had as an artist. Over the weekend another black man was killed by a police officer, this time in Atlanta. The killing of Rayshard Brooks, 27, comes right on the heels of the news of the hanging deaths of Robert Fuller, 24, and Malcolm Harsh, 38, a week before that. It’s all a bit much. Making these pieces is part of my own healing process and I hope that can be true for others.

UPDATE – ABC7 NY ran a story about Unarmed on Thursday:

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Believe me, the last thing I’d rather be doing right now is designing another jersey and posting it on this website. I started this project in 2013. That’s a lot of tears spilled over Adobe Illustrator. A lot of marches and grief. And so I let a few go by – Walter Scott, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor – sounds so callous, doesn’t it? But isn’t that what we all do?

Three of the jerseys appeared in my film 72 Hours: a Brooklyn Love Story? – isn’t that enough?

Last year around this time I interviewed Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, Terence Crutcher’s twin sister, for a documentary I was directing about a separate topic related to race. The Terence Crutcher jersey was the last one I designed in this series, four years ago, on my birthday. Dr. Crutcher spoke powerfully in our interview about how she didn’t want her life to be about her brother’s killing, but how we must find the strength to raise our voices in the midst of pain.

And so my fingers quiver once again as I select fonts and Google details – did George Floyd have a nickname? where should it appear on the jersey? Bullets were easier to make into a design motif – stars – but how does one represent a knee and the crushing weight of racism? With a glyph? A line weight?


That is the motto of the Minneapolis Police Department. If you didn’t know that, know this. George Floyd – Big Floyd – was UNARMED.

Full project archive at unarmed.co #BlackLivesMatter

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According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the Achilles tendon can withstand more than 1000 pounds of pressure. On June 10th, 2019, the Achilles tendon of basketball star Kevin Durant snapped during game 5 of the NBA finals. I believe that the Internet snapped it, a month after it took down another colossus, HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Read full essay here.

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This film documents the installation of Into the Woods, which was created for the International Garden Festival at Domaine Chaumont-sur-Loire. In making the film I asked design principals Matt Donham and Phoebe Lickwar to voice their creative choices in building it, and some of the larger ideas at play in the field of landscape architecture. Last, I wanted the film to feel like an exchange with the garden, which unfolds to a visitor in its own time.

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There was a controversy at my bodega this morning that escalated into a shouting match. A Jamaican man was making a fresh pot of coffee and blocking access to the machine while myself and another customer, a Mexican, stood waiting, even though a fresh pot sat ready on the other burner. The Jamaican paced back and forth as he prepared the pot, loose limbs flying in every direction, muttering under his breath. The Mexican and I, apparently, had no choice but to stand by and let the chef cook.

The Jamaican had an unorthodox method of preparing the filter and one of the Yemeni men who runs the joint stepped in to hurry the proceedings along. The Jamaican took offense. Choruses of “let me do this,” and “my way is better,” wrinkled the morning calm. When he said, “I pay money,” what had been a small kerfuffle mushroomed into a referendum on capitalism.

“This is America. Everybody pays money,” said the Yemeni. The argument lost its thread as everyone seemed to be saying the same thing, only louder – “I pay money. You pay money. Everybody makes money.” To this dead end the Jamaican added the turn, “I don’t always make money.”

The Jamaican started towards the counter as the coffee pot had finally been wrested from his hands. Fresh brown elixir splashed down into the empty vessel from the spout. By this time the Yemeni working the front had joined the fray, not as loud as his brother but granted special gravitas given his authority over the cash register. “You only pay fifty cents for coffee,” he said, “sometimes you don’t even pay.” I stood in line waiting to pay a full dollar for my cup as the Jamaican exited the shop, stage right. “I pay for my coffee,” he said, “I pay.”

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Last night a film I directed and have been working on for the past six months aired on national television. It plays at an hour with commercials but premiered at its festival length of 43 minutes at ABFF this past weekend. I am quite pleased with how it turned out, thank you very much. You can see it online in its entirety here.

UPDATE – Legacy Lives On won a gold Telly award in the documentary category.