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4 The Art of Place: The Work of Diane Gamboa

Aldama, Arturo J. ePub

KAREN MARY DAVALOS

In 2008, Southern California witnessed its first major “post-ethnic” art exhibition in Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement.1 Building on the performances and visual arts of Asco, the Los Angeles–based collective originally composed of Harry Gamboa, Jr., Gronk, Willie Herrón, and Patssi Valdez, the exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) intended to challenge conventional parameters of Chicana/o art and offer one strategy for interpreting conceptual art produced by artists who came of age after the Chicano Movement. Co-curators Rita Gonzalez, Howard Fox, and Chon Noriega posit that the temporal curatorial model of art produced after something allowed them “the freedom to follow an idea, rather than represent a constituency.”2 Interestingly, the show was simultaneously a complete success and a dramatic failure. Ticket sales evidence that it was overwhelmingly popular, breaking LACMA attendance records. Yet local artists and critics found the exhibition lacking. They hosted several public discussions, generated hundreds of blog posts, and published articles in regional and national media to address the show’s historical, aesthetic, and positional errors. Some critics responded by producing their own exhibitions performed as errata that offered a corrective vision of Chicana/o art in Los Angeles.3

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3 The Other Train That Derails Us: Performing Latina Anxiety Disorder in “The Night before Christmas”

Aldama, Arturo J. ePub

ANGIE CHABRAM-DERNERSESIAN

Anxiety is an activation of our senses and our physical readiness so we can assess our surroundings or look for dangers—and so we can be more ready to run or fight. Like the flashing red lights and crossing guards that come down over a railroad track when the train—still miles away—goes over a switch.

DR. J., “ANXIETY, PRACTICALLY SPEAKING

After a hard day’s work, Doña Elena sits down to watch her favorite telenovela, armed with a piping hot cup of café con leche (coffee with milk) and her favorite pan dulce (pastry). She has much company in this much-awaited daily ritual, according to transnational studies of Spanish media culture (see, e.g., LaPastina n.d.).1 Across Latina/o America, viewers of Spanish-language television—men, women, and children alike—join her in savoring yet another installment of this hugely popular televisual genre.

In this particular instance, not long after a reprise of the previous day’s melodramatic plot line, Doña Elena’s television ritual is rudely interrupted by a program change. In a programmed announcement, Doña Elena and her fellow viewers are met head-on with the image of a larger-than-life train that threatens to barrel out of control, lunging out of the small screen and engulfing their bodies, spirits, and home spaces. The burning light of the train offers no escape from televisual darkness or human entrapment. Viewers are thus caught unawares, somehow right in front of the path of the monumental, horrific train, provoking a primal urge to flee or seek protection—what therapists call the “flight syndrome.”2

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1 Body as Codex-ized Word / Cuerpo Como Palabra (en-)Códice-ado: Chicana/Indígena and Mexican Transnational Performative Indigeneities Micaela Díaz-Sánchez

Aldama, Arturo J. ePub

MICAELA DÍAZ-SÁNCHEZ

In the performance work of Mexican actress, writer, and director Jesusa Rodríguez and Chicana/Tepehuana1 painter / installation artist / performance artist Celia Herrera-Rodríguez, the body functions as the critical site for the (de)construction of national and Indigenous identities. The corporeal operates as the primary signifier in the reclamation of denied histories. Through the self-consciously performative style of cabaret and espectáculo (spectacle), Jesusa Rodríguez monumentalizes México’s Indigenous histories as she employs discourse central to Mexican national identity and cultural citizenship. Celia Herrera-Rodríguez enacts Indigeneity as intimate ritual and positions her work as personal historical recovery and pedagogy aimed at creating dialogue among Indigenous communities on a global level. Their aesthetic methodologies are mediated by multifarious contradictions, colonial epistemologies, and discursive strategies for survival. In the critical recognition and negotiation of these refractory mediations, performance functions as an embodied attempt at reclamation of Indigenous narratives, in and out of the “nation.”

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13 Lila Downs’s Borderless Performance: Transculturation and Musical Communication Brenda M. Romero

Aldama, Arturo J. ePub

BRENDA M. ROMERO

Suddenly, everyone is interested in Lila Downs! Her musical performances appeal to multiethnic, multilingual, and transnational audiences across hemispheres, gender boundaries, and musical cultures. These audiences include progressive academics, political activists, and radical artists with political consciences. Who is this remarkable new vocalist/ composer? Lila Downs made her debut into the mainstream with four song credits in the acclaimed film Frida,1 where she appears singing in the tango and bedside scenes. Certainly her proximity to the Frida cult via the movie has led her to capitalize on the pop cultural Frida image, as her critics are quick to notice, but Lila also claims indigenous ancestry, holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology on Oaxacan textiles, and is a musical activist. Lila Downs is the daughter of a Caucasian father and a Mixtec2 mother; she straddles the middle of a divided world. This essay celebrates Lila Downs’s artistic contributions and proposes that she offers a truly new brand of musical performance that not only represents her own journey of personal discovery but also integrates diverse musical ideas and fuses deeply layered indigenous ideas and beliefs about music with sounds and lyrical imagery. The result is truly engaging for listeners on both sides of the US–México border.

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9 Roland Barthes, Mojado, in Brownface: Chisme-laced Snapshots Documenting the Preposterous and Factlaced Claim That the Postmodern Was Born along the Borders of the Río Grande River William Anthony Nericcio

Aldama, Arturo J. ePub

WILLIAM ANTHONY NERICCIO

The editors have asked that I add a prolegomena to the forehead or face of this essay, and I am happy to do so. Way back in the day (old skool grad school days, when this son of la frontera was kidnapped by the Ivy League and whisked away to freeze his nalgas off in Ithaca, New York), I was a big fan of Roland Barthes—I thrilled to the jouissance of the pleasures of the text, read and reread the dispatches in Mythologies, etc. etc. Long story short, I escaped the wicked pirates of Cornell, got a job at the University of Connecticut, jumped ship to Califas and SDSU and, my first year there (1991, shh shh!) I wrote an in-house grant proposal and was awarded five hundred smackeroos to purchase my first 35 mm camera. The rest, as they say, is history. What follows are the theorylaced meditations of a Chicano on crack Kodak, a Mexicameran-American (that’s me in the center there to the right of Edward James Olmos; Barthes’s there to the right of me, or at least his photoshopped ghost is); I am utterly responsible for the contents of this rasquache semiotic whatsit and beg you reward the editors of this collection for allowing it to appear in these pages.

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