La Pocha Nostra
Live Art Laboratory & Border Research Institute
“The most influential Latino performance art troupe of the last 10 years.” El Pais, Spain.
Founded in 1993 in Los Angeles, La Pocha Nostra is Gómez-Peña’s ultimate and most long-standing project.
La Pocha Nostra is a transdisciplinary arts organization & 501-c3 non-profit that provides a support network and forum for artists of various disciplines, generations, gender complexities and ethnic backgrounds. La Pocha is devoted to erasing the borders between art and politics, art practice and theory, artist and spectator. For 25+ years, LPN has intensely focused on the notion of collaboration across national borders, race, gender and generations as an act of radical citizen diplomacy and as a means to create “ephemeral communities” of rebel artists.
La Pocha Nostra’s performance work mixes experimental aesthetics, activist politics, Spanglish humor and audience participation to create a "total experience" for both live and online audience member/reader/viewer. Continually developing multi-centric narratives and large-scale performance projects from a border perspective, La Pocha Nostra creates what critics have termed "Chicano cyber-punk performances," and "ethno-techno art." In the work, cultural borders have moved to the center while the alleged mainstream is pushed to the margins and treated as exotic and unfamiliar, placing the audience members and readers in the position of "foreigners" or "minorities."
La Pocha Nostra’s artwork has been presented at over a thousand venues across the US, Canada, Mexico, Spain, the UK, Germany, Haiti, Latvia, Belgium, Greece, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland, Russia, Australia, South Africa, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and Argentina. La Pocha Nostra has participated in the following Biennales: Venice, Documenta, Havana, The Whitney Museum, Sydney, Liverpool, Thessaloniki and Mercosur, and they performed at the Venice Biennale Performance Art Week. The troupe’s photo-performances are now in the permanent collections of Daros Foundation (Zurich), Galeria Artificios (Gran Canaria), the MAM (Mexico City), and the Getty (Los Angeles), among other institutions.
Every year, LPN conducts a summer and a winter performance art school in which La Pocha Nostra's radical pedagogy (a site-specific performance methodology that has been developed during the last 10 years) is shared with large groups of radical artists spanning three generations. The site for this pedagogical adventures changes every year. In 2020 we held our first ever Virtual School of Dreams & Psychomagic over 5-weeks including 36 artists from 10 different countries and culminating in an international live art and film festival online.
WHO IS LA POCHA NOSTRA 2021?
In addition to La Pocha Nostra’s Core/Active members (Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Emma Tramposch, La Saula, Balitronica Gómez, Paloma Martinez-Cruz, Robert Gómez Hernandez & Micha Espinosa) we are proud to share the following list of rebel artists, partner organizations, collectives and funders that are seated with us at the conceptual table this year. LPN has always embodied a series of concentric and overlapping circles but now - in light of the challenges of 2020 and 2021 - we are committed more than ever to reinventing collective formats under the principle of reciprocity to stay connected and keep creating.
Partner Institutions, organizations & collectives: Norwegian Theater Academy, Dreamocracy in America, Border Narratives Project (NALAC), Hemispheric Institute of Performance & Politics, Live Art Development Agency (London), Public Media Institute & Lumpen Radio (Chicago), The Jane Addams Hull House (Chicago), Smart Museum (Chicago) VestAndPage (Verena Stenke & Andrea Pagnes), Collective Signatures (Francesca Carol-Rolla & Preach), Grace Exhibition Space (NYC), The Ecosexuals (Annie Sprinkle & Beth Stephens), Routledge (Taylor and Francis), 18th Street Art Center & Highways (Santa Monica).
Media & Film Team: Robert Gómez-Hernandez, Gustavo Vazquez, Amber Bemak & EmaLee Arroyo
Literary Team: Paloma Martinez-Cruz, Micha Espinosa, William Stark, Jose Torres-Tama, Elaine Peña & Antonio Martinez
Graphic Design: Perry Vasquez & Irisdelia Garcia
The Living Archives Crew: Lady Monster, Eliza Heartwood, Federico Tello & Emma Tramposch
Mexico City Collaborators: Maria Eugenia Chellet, Lechedevirgen Trimegisto, Julia Antivilo, Nayla Altamirano, Gloria Maldonado, Lothar Muller & Lucero Luz
Development Team: Toni Press-Coffman, Kim Chan & Emma Tramposch
Thank you to our main funders: National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, San Francisco Arts Commission, Grants for the Arts, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Center for Cultural Innovation & California Arts Council.
ADDENDUM - OUR COLLABORATIVE PROCESS: Responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic and our new enhanced virtual identities we are initiating a cephalopod like collective model. We are generating new creative “limbs” with multiple production bases across continents and territories. We expand our concentric circle with invited Pocha collaborators who are members and institutions of our community of rebel artists. Our new “Pocha diplomats” would work under the collective Indigenous concept of “tequio” or “faenas” for specific Pocha artistic projects under the principles of reciprocity and accountability.
BIOS OF CURRENT CORE MEMBERS:
Guillermo Gómez-Peña (Mexico/US) Artistic Director, Godmother of La Pocha Nostra
Emma Tramposch (US/New Zealand) Managing Director & Curator of the Living Archives
Emma is the Managing Director of 501-c3 interdisciplinary arts organization La Pocha Nostra. She has been working closely with Gómez-Peña on programming and projects since 2007. As an art administrator, producer, curator, writer & archivist she has a longstanding commitment to presenting radical, transdisciplinary artwork that speaks to the issues of our political times. Emma holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Victoria University (New Zealand) and an MA in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. She has written for Art Papers, The Drama Review, Art Practical and co-edited the Live Art Almanac and Camerawork Journal.
Balitronica Gómez (US/Mexico) Core Member, Director of Communications, and Pedagogue
Balitronica is a cyber-feminist poet, performance artist, and radical pedagogue. Born and raised on the border of San Diego/Tijuana, she holds a BA in Literature from San Diego State University and an MFA in Poetry from Mills College. Her performance work has been largely influenced by her time spent living in a 17th Century Catholic Convent in Paris with a Dominican Order of Nuns. She has been touring internationally with Gómez-Peña since 2013 and currently resides between San Francisco, Mexico City and the road. Track her current projects online here.
Saula Garcia Lopez, aka La Saula (Mexico/Canada) Co-Director of International Projects, Pedagogue and Pocha Scholar.
La Saula is a postnational performance artist, scholar, artivist, and performance director. He is a pedagogical DJ for communities of radical differences, a reverse wetback of gender and ethnic bending, and a third world cyborg kitsch. As a conceptual sicario, he enacts psychomagic rituals, social exorcisms, and conceptual cannibalism against colonialism. He trained as a dancer and actor, has a BA in psychology, a PGradDip in Directing, and a BA (Hons) in Drama and Film. He has toured around the world with LPN and has co-written with Gómez-Peña, a new pedagogical book La Pocha Nostra: A handbook for the rebel artist in a post-democratic society (coming out in 2020).
Currently a visiting professor at the Norwegian Theater Academy and coordinating multiple international projects by LPN and tactically joining for European and Mexico group projects during 2020.
Paloma Martinez-Cruz, Ph.D. Carnalíssima at Large of La Pocha Nostra
Paloma is an associate professor of Latinx Cultural Studies at The Ohio State University, and author of two monographs: Food Fight! Millennial Mestizaje Meets the Culinary Marketplace (University of Arizona Press, 2019) and Women and Knowledge in Mesoamerica: From East L.A. to Anahuac (University of Arizona Press, 2011). She is the editor of La Pocha Nostra: A Handbook for the Rebel Artist in a Post-Democratic Society by Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Saúl García-López, 2021). Her poetry, performance, and fiction have appeared in PALABRA, About Place Journal, Literally Stories, and featured internationally in live and virtual productions. Martinez-Cruz is the director of Onda Latina Ohio, an arts initiative promoting Latinx performance in the Midwest.
Micha Espinosa (La Frontera) Core Member, Pedagogue, Mourner, and Vocal Terrorist.
Her tongue, gives her away. Ni de aqui ni de allá. Her loyalties to her global community, the one earth momma and papa, and the freaks of this world. Nails weak, short, and dirty, muddled blood, imprinted with healthy doses of alcoholism and corrido ethics. A radical feminist who takes after her macho father, pulled by the weight of her societal obligations and debt, whose posture and gait has been affected by chasing impossible forms of beauty, writing over sacred bones and bodies under concrete structures of learning. She suffers and profits in the gutter of splintered aca-dementia. Now, Buddha belly breathing, relearning the natural before the supernatural, defining herself, becoming a vessel for the psychic wounds of the frontera, feeling the rapid beating of her heart, the release of her tongue- she is ready to scream.
Robert Gómez Hernandez (US/Mexico/Brazil/France) Core Member, Radical Filmmaker
At the age of six, Robert opened his first library, of which the entire catalogue consisted of only one book: “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf. With its red cover, and exquisite black and white drawings, Robert has always been a toro that attends to the delicate perfumes of flowers. Raised between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Vicente Guerrero, Chihuahua, he holds a MFA in Film and an MA in Visual & Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. He also attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Ichiyo School of Ikebana, and the Instituto Flamenco Cibayi de Cádiz España. He has directed projects in the United States, Brazil, France, Haiti, Mexico, Italy, Jamaica, and Cuba. His current work spans marketing, music videos, socially engaged documentaries, dance, and art films. Robert is the director of the film and marketing company Alumiere.
FOR A LIST OF PAST & PRESENT INHABITANTS OF THE POCHA PLANET PLEASE VISIT OUR POCHA MANIFESTO HERE