Fire and fury

Performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Peña brings radical Chicano theater to El Prado

By Tempo staff
Posted 6/16/18

If you were in Taos around 2000, you may remember when Guillermo Gomez-Peña created a stir with his unique brand of radical Chicano performance art. Well, he’s back and the years …

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Fire and fury

Performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Peña brings radical Chicano theater to El Prado


If you were in Taos around 2000, you may remember when Guillermo Gomez-Peña created a stir with his unique brand of radical Chicano performance art. Well, he’s back and the years haven’t dulled his unique perspective on the world, especially now.

Gomez-Peña is planning a presentation with Saul Garcia-Lopez and Balitronica Sunday (June 17), 8 p.m., at Los Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte, 1219 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in El Prado. 

Gómez-Peña is described as a performance artist, writer, activist, radical pedagogue and artistic director of the performance troupe La Pocha Nostra. Born in Mexico City, he moved to the United States in 1978.

His performance work and 11 books have contributed to the debates on cultural and gender diversity, border culture and U.S.-Mexico relations, according to press materials. His art work has been presented at more than 900 venues across the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, Russia, South Africa and Australia. A MacArthur Fellow, a Bessie and an American Book Award winner, he is a regular contributor for newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe and a contributing editor to The Drama Review (NYU-MIT Press).

Gómez-Peña is a senior fellow in the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, a patron for the London-based Live Art Development Agency and in 2012 he was named Samuel Hoi Fellow by USA Artists.

Gómez-Peña is also known as “The Most (un) Documented Mexican Artist_2018.” In his new spoken-word monologue (with cameos by Balitronica Gómez), the rebel artist at 62 faces his inner demons — uncensored and wilder than ever.

In his latest solo work, "El border brujo" draws from Guillermo’s 30-year-old living archive and combines new and classic performance material to present a unique perspective on the immediate future of the Americas. His self-styled “imaginary activism” invokes performance art as a form of radical democracy and citizenship.

Combining spoken-word poetry, activist theory, radical storytelling and language experimentation, Gómez-Peña offers critical and humorous commentary about the art world, academia, new technologies, the culture of war and violence in the U.S., organized crime in Mexico, gender and race politics, and the latest wave of complications surrounding gentrification in the “creative city.” This spoken word performance includes multiple cameos by troupe member and collaborator, Balitronica Gomez.

Gómez-Peña’s format reveals to an audience the process of creating, “languaging" and performing material, and this process becomes the project. It is precisely in his new solo work where Gómez-Peña’s literature, theory, activism, pedagogy and live art come together in a wonderfully strange mix.

Gómez-Peña has spent many years developing his unique solo style, “a combination of embodied poetry, performance activism and theatricalizations of postcolonial theory.” In his 10 books, as in his live performances, digital art, videos and photo-performances, he pushes the boundaries still further, exploring what’s left for artists to do in a repressive global culture of censorship, paranoid nationalism and what he terms “the mainstream bizarre.”

Gómez-Peña examines where this leaves the critical practice of artists who aim to make tactical, performative interventions into our notions of culture, race and sexuality. Most recently, he has also been exploring the poetic and activist use of new technologies and social media.

Also appearing will be Saul Garcia-Lopez, who is described as a performance artist, radical performance director, pedagogue, doctoral candidate in performance and co-artistic director of La Pocha Nostra. As a scholar and artist. he explores the pedagogical intersections of acting and performance theory and practice, indigenous strategies of performance, ethnicity, gender, post-colonialism and indigeneity, the release states.

His artistic work is body, text and multidisciplinary-based and aims to dislocate and challenge assumptions of cultural representations by embodying simultaneous and contradictory identities and actions. Garcia-Lopez trained as a contemporary dancer and actor, and as a psychologist at the National University in Mexico.

In addition, Balitronica Gomez, a poet, performance artist, and radical pedagogue will be on stage at Los Pistoleras. Currently living between San Francisco, Mexico City, and "the road," Balitronica  was born on the U.S.-Mexico border of San Diego and Tijuana in the 1980s.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from San Diego State University and a masters in performance poetry from Mills College. Her performance work has been largely influenced by her time spent living in a 17th century Catholic convent in Paris where she lived with nuns in the Dominican Order. She has been touring internationally with Gómez-Peña since 2013 and is a core member of his legendary performance troupe: La Pocha Nostra.

Every performance is tailored to be site and theme specific, so be ready for anything.

Tickets are $15 per person, but due to space restrictions only 50 seats will be sold. For advance tickets, call Pistoleras Director Tessa Córdova at (575) 779-0445.


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