In his new solo-performance, Strange Democracy, post-Mexican writer and performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña deals with the end of the Bush era and articulates the formidable challenges facing Obama. He also denounces the anti-immigration hysteria and assaults the demonized construction of the US/Mexican border—a literal and symbolic zone lined with Minute Men, rising nativism, three-ply fences, globalization, and transnational identities. To this effect, the “border artist extraordinaire” uses acid Chicano humour, hybrid literary genres, multilingualism, and activist theory as subversive strategies.
Shifting between languages, Gómez-Peña morphs into various performance personae and bombards audiences with his infamous, border savvy techno-ideology, ethno-poetics and radical aesthetics. In this journey to the geographical and psychological outposts of Chicanos, Gómez-Peña also reflects on identity, race, sexuality, pop culture, politics and the impact of new technologies in the post-911 era. Gómez-Peña continues “to develop multi-centric narratives from a border perspective,” creating what critics have termed “Chicano cyber-punk performances” and “ethno-techno art.” During these performances cultural borders move to the centre while the alleged mainstream is pushed to the margins and treated as exotic and unfamiliar, placing the audience members in the position of “foreigners” or “minorities in his performance country.
For three decades, Gómez-Peña has been exploring border culture, immigration, intercultural issues, “extreme culture” and new technologies, with the use of mixed genres and experimental languages. Gómez-Peña has contributed to the cultural debates of our times staging legendary performance art pieces such as, “Border Brujo” (1988), “The Couple in the Cage” (1992), “The Cruci-fiction Project” (1994), “Temple of Confessions” (1995), “The Mexterminator project” (1997-99), “The Living Museum of Fetishized Identities” (1999-2002) and the “Mapa/Corpo” series (2004-2008).
Gómez-Peña’s work in multiple genres (performance, installation, critical writings, video, photography and pedagogy) is based in the strong belief that consciousness can be influenced by, and stimulated to grow through, non-traditional presentational arts formats. This belief has been at the core of his life’s work, beginning with his experience as a young immigrant graduate student in the California Institute of the Arts (1978-82), continuing with his co-founding of San Diego’s Border Arts Workshop (1985-1990) and Santa Monica’s Highways Performance Space in the late 1980s, and culminating in the co-founding of his current company La Pocha Nostra in San Francisco (1995) to present day.
Tickets: R60 adults, R30 students – available through www.computicket.co.za