Essential Works

A Gómez-Peña project chronology.

Guillermo Gómez-Peña walking across the desert in a suit with a bandage on his head.

Border Walk

1979

"Dear reader: This performance chronology is a conceptual artwork in permanent progress. It was originally conceived as “a poetic-activist intervention into the historical discourses of performance art.

You may consider it an invitation for historians and curators to incorporate our multiple parallel histories in the discourse of contemporary art; and for performance artists to engage in similar genealogical projects; to think of ourselves as artist/documentarians.

I fully acknowledge the role of my poetic subjectivity in the construction of this project. I also wish to thank Emma Tramposch and Balitronica for being my main accomplices. What follows is an excerpt of the total archives. " - GP

In early 1979, Gómez-Peña walked from Tijuana to CalArts in Los Angeles in two and a half days.

With his head covered in gauze, the artist wore his father’s suit and carried with him a briefcase containing his passport, talismans, and a diary.

“Border Walk,” from Tijuana to Los Angeles in 2 & ½ days, 1979.
GP outside an INS Detention Center, (first site-specific performance) 1978.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña positioned on the floor in a public elevator. Wrapped in floral-patterned batik fabric.

The Loneliness of the Immigrant

1979

The Loneliness of the Immigrant is an early solo performance piece in which Gómez-Peña transformed his body into a mysterious package, positioned on the floor in a public elevator. Wrapped in batik fabric, the artist lay on the floor for 24 hours.

On the wall of the elevator, a text read:

“Moving to another country hurts more than moving to another house, another face, another lover… In one way or another we all are or will be immigrants. Surely one day we will be able to crack this shell open, this unbearable loneliness, and develop a transcontinental identity.”

Over the course of the day, many passersby interacted with the cocooned person/object: talking, kicking, poking, confessing, and verbally threatening. A dog peed on him.

Eventually, the artist was evacuated by security guards and thrown into an industrial disposal bin. Gómez-Peña called this work, “a metaphor of painful birth into a new country, a new identity-- Chicano-- and a new language-- intercultural performance.”

This piece was the first performance by Gómez-Peña fully documented and made visible to the art world. One of the photographs is in the private collection of LACMA.

The Loneliness of the Immigrant, 1979.
GP as a “Mexican Homeless,” spends 12 hours laying on a downtown LA street, 1978. "I discovered that as both a 'homeless' and as Mexican, I was invisible to the Anglo population.“
A crowd of people surround a circle of candles and ritual objects on a concrete floor.

Poyesis Genética

1979 to 1983

With Sara-Jo Berman

Poyesis Genética was Gómez-Peña’s first interdisciplinary arts troupe, formed at CalArts and co-founded with NY choreographer Sara-Jo Berman.

The group was comprised of mainly politicized immigrants and foreign students. They created performances, installations, public interventions and video artworks that explored “fusing various cultural traditions utilizing performance as a syntactic thread,” and developed an interdisciplinary language that evoked indigenous rituals, blended with sexual and political imagery, personal pathos and iconography from pop culture.

Guillermo Gómez-Peña crouching down in a ritual scene including candles, masks, photographs, and two other performers.
“The birth of Poyesis Genética 1”, GP’s first performance troupe, Cal Arts, LA, 1979.
Aerial shot of a Poyesis Genetica performance involving a crowd of attendees.
“The birth of PG 2”, Cal Arts, 1979.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña lighting a ritual candle in shamanic attire. Female cellist playing in the background.
GP in an early PG ritual performance dressed as a shaman "neo-azteca" collaborating with a symphonic cellist. LA, 1979.
Performing for involuntary audiences. From the "Bathroom (Spanglish) Poetry Recital" series, CalArts, 1979.
Leonides Guadarrama and GP performing as doppelgangers for a week. (The artist wishes he could still look like that)
Poyesis Genetica’s “Cabaret Babylon Aztlan,” (GP & Sara Jo-Berman) 1983 Beautifully deteriorated photo: Don Costello
"Mister Misterio" GP’s first iconic performance persona (Go to "Uroborus vs Trump's Border Wall" section and listen to "Border-X-Frontera" - GP's first radio piece chronicling his days at the US/Mexico Border)
Border Arts Workshop performer wearing ladies lingerie, covered in a mask, and carrying a crucifix.

Border Arts Workshop

1984 to 1990

Photographs courtesy of the BAW/TAF archives.

The legendary San Diego/Tijuana-based Border Arts Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo (BAW/TAF) was founded in 1984 by a binational group of artists, activists, journalists and scholars. The founding members included Gómez-Peña, David Avalos, Sara-Jo Berman, Víctor Ochoa, Isaac Artenstein, Michael Schnorr, Emily Hicks and Jude Ederhart.

The group's projects were often carried out on both sides of the border, and at the borderline itself. From the beginning, the group established its interest in addressing "the social tensions the Mexican-American border creates, while asking us to imagine a world in which this international boundary has been erased...The Border is a spiral not a straight line."

BAW/TAF created the theoretical border-art paradigm that led to the institutionalization of border art and the utilization of border theory in Academia. With their late works, BAW/TAF became the first Chicano troupe to ever be accepted in the Venice, Sydney and Habana Biennials.

Ila Nicole Sheren states:

"Border Art didn't become a category until the Border Art Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo (BAW/TAF). Starting in 1984, and continuing in several iterations through the early twenty-first century, the binational collective transformed San Diego-Tijuana into a highly charged site for conceptual performance art ...The BAW/TAF artists were to link performance, site-specificity, and the U.S.-Mexico Border, as well as the first to export "border art" to other geographic locations and situations."

"Gómez-Peña and colleagues created a spatial and temporal utopia, demonstrating why he is one of our most important living artists." -Philip Stanier, Live Culture at Tate Modern

“The End of the Line” Classic photo of the original Border Arts Workshop, Border State Park/Playas de Tijuana, 1985. Photo: Jay Lussard.
Border Arts Workshop performer wearing ladies lingerie, covered in a mask, and carrying a crucifix.
Street performance at the US/Mexico Border line. Circa.1986.
Border Arts Workshop performers dressed up as binoculars and a bottle on a beach.
“Border action #1” by BAW/TAF. Members of the workshop embody border stereotypes right where Border State Park meets Playa de Tijuana, 1985.
Border Arts Workshop performers wearing costumes at a beach.
“Border action #2:” BAW/TAF extreme performance action in front of The Border Patrol and international journalists and filmmakers. Border State Park/Playa de Tijuana, 1985.
Hugo Sanchez performing a sicario in a border intervention, circa mid 1980's
Louis Malle shoots GP for "In the Pursuit of Happiness", San Diego/Tijuana, 1986
"The General in Exile in his California white-trash home" (Currently held in the private collection of Francisco Toledo and exhibited against artist's wishes as "untitled by anonymous artist".

The Border Wedding

1988

With Emily Hicks

In 1988, Gómez-Peña and Emily Hicks staged their "performance wedding" right on the Tijuana-San Diego borderline, with poets and musicians performing on both sides, and family and friends crossing into each other’s countries during the ceremony. The media labeled the event "a masterpiece of symbolic politics." Emily was 7 months pregnant. The artist reflects "It only cost me half of my MacArthur award & a family court case."

Emily Hicks & GP. Border Wedding right where Border State Park meets with Playas de Tijuana. 1988.
Emily Hicks & GP re-stage border wedding at NY/Ontario Border 1987
Tourist Polaroid of the Border Wedding, 1988
Guillermo Gómez-Peña in a leopard fur cap seated behind candles and ritual ephemera.

Border Brujo

1988 to 1989

Videographer: Isaac Artenstein

Sitting at an altar decorated with a kitsch collection of cultural fetish items, and wearing a border patrolman’s jacket decorated with buttons, bananas, beads, and shells, Gómez-Peña delivers a sly and bitter indictment of U.S. colonial attitudes toward Mexican culture and history.

"Border Brujo" is “a ritual-linguistic journey across the U.S./Mexico border” in which Gómez Peña becomes a migrant touring the routes of jornaleros. This classic performance monologue also has a video component.

Whirling through various Mexican American stereotypes, Gómez-Peña emphasizes the collision of Mexican and American cultures, their mixture and misunderstanding of each other, each appearing as a dream/nightmare reflection of the “Other.”

The personas are symbolic of the borders between North and South, Anglo and Latino; myth and reality; legality and illegality; art and life. Border Brujo assaults and exorcises the demons of dominant cultures. He articulates fear, desire, trauma, sublimation, anger, and misplacement embodying ruptured and defiant communities with multilingual dexterity and humor.

Buy the video or watch a preview at vdb.org.

“Gómez-Peña is magnificent, melodramatic, robustly hilarious and precisely, exquisitely witty...I emerge from his performances somewhat dazed.” -Lucy Lippard

Guillermo Gómez-Peña sitting at an altar decorated with a kitsch collection of cultural fetish items, and wearing a border patrolman’s jacket decorated with buttons, bananas, beads, and shells.
Classic portrait of Border Brujo by Max Aguilera-Hellweg. 1986. This project jump-started GP's solo performance practice.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña sitting at an altar decorated with a kitsch collection of cultural fetish items, and wearing a border patrolman’s jacket decorated with buttons, bananas, beads, and shells.
Classic portrait. Photo: Becky Cohen, 1988.
GP as Border Rocker.
Classic Portrait of GP and 6 month old Guillermo Emiliano. By Max Aguilera Hellweg. (Photo currently held in a "private collection" - the home of a curator to remain nameless - against the artist’s consent.)
Guillermo Gómez-Peña & Coco Fusco inside a golden cage dressed in native costume.

Couple in the Cage

Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit the West

1992 to 1993

With Coco Fusco and Paula Heredia

In Couple in the Cage: Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit the West, Gómez-Peña and Fusco travel and appear before the public in four different countries as two "Guatinaui Indians," members of a fictional "newly discovered" tribe who had agreed to be displayed at malls and museums around the world, after the manner of human exhibition in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Gómez-Peña, like his contemporaries (James Luna, Fred Wilson, Jimmy Durham, Barbara Kirschenblatt, Mike Taussig, et al) were interested in a radical, alternative framework of anthropology, and was playing with the format of a “living dioramas.”

Conceived as a "satirical comment on the past," the performances in The Guatinaui World Tour evoke various responses, including huge numbers of people who are convinced the personas are real and do not find the idea of "natives" locked in a cage objectionable. One concerned audience member at the Smithsonian even called the "humane society to liberate the specimens".

The work is considered seminal in Gómez-Peña’s career and in several threads in art history including institutional museum critique, post-colonial debate, problematic representations of cultural otherness, and para/fictional art.

To purchase the Couple in the Cage please contact Video Data Bank.

News Alert for the Connoisseur: The full film of Couple in the Cage is now viewable on YouTube.

Photo Courtesy of Walker Art Center. This image was on the cover of Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett's "Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums and Heritage"
“Couple in the Cage" Madrid, 1992. Photo: Nancy Lyttle
Lady posing next to to a golden cage with Gómez-Peña and Coco Fusco being exhibited within.
"Couple in the Cage", Madrid, 1992. Photo: Nancy Lyttle.
Woman in white gloves feeding Gómez-Peña inside the cage.
“Couple in the Cage,” Covent Gardens, London, 1992. Photo: Nancy Lyttle
Fusco, Sifuentes & GP resting backstage after "New World Border" - a performance staged on the days following "Couple in the Cage" Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, 1992.
Vintage photo of "Queen Isabella and El Moctezuma Jr" by Rubén Ortiz-Torres. GP asks: Can I get one copy of the original in color, please?
“Coming out of the Border Cage” Photo by Javier Caballero, Gran Canaria. Where is Coco?

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Couple in The Cage Documentation

NAFTAZTEC T.V.

...or, El Naftazteca: Cyber-Aztec TV for 2000 AD

1994

With Roberto Sifuentes

This project was Gómez-Peña's infamous pirate TV broadcast. A live military satellite transmission interrupts the nightly news in an act of "guerrilla television".

This classic piece of para/fictional art presented the artist as a "post-NAFTA Cyber-Aztec" pirate who commandeered a commercial TV signal from his underground "Vato bunker," where virtual reality meets border art in a collage of footage ranging from home movies, excerpts of earlier GP's performances, Mexican movies, political commentary, etc. Radical politics, autobiographical material, "reverse anthropology" and parodic traces of media broadcasts comprise the content of this legendary video art piece. Later distributed by Video Data Bank. To purchase the video please visit VDB.

“A cross between Oscar Wilde and Lenny Bruce, witty and gritty and brilliant, Gómez-Peña stretches language to the breaking point, coining words and code shifting at will... Anyone interested in contemporary performance theory should read his books. For the rest of us, it is a cultural roller-coaster ride with decidedly satirical seat belts." -Publishers Weekly

Portrait of Gómez-Peña in tiger-print vest, with feather headdress adorned with punk buttons, holding plastic replica of human heart.
‘El Naftazteca,’ 1994. Photo: Clarissa Horowitz
Portrait of GP & Sifuentes as TV pirates and border rockers. Photo: Clarissa Horowitz. This photo generated a lot of semiotic misunderstandings since the audiences expected a rock concert, not a performance art piece.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña suspended from a crucifix.

The Cruci-Fiction Project

1994

With Roberto Sifuentes

Gómez-Peña and Sifuentes staged the original “Cruci-Fiction Project” in 1994, attaching themselves to 12 by 8 foot crosses at Rodeo Beach, Marin Headlands Park in front of 300 invited guests and members of the international press. Images of The Cruci-Fiction Project appeared in Der Spiegel, La Jornada (Mexico City), and many other publications in multiple countries, inspiring similar actions worldwide.

The performance was a critique of the state-sponsored xenophobia branding people of color, specifically Latinos in California, as criminals, romantic entertainers and gang bangers. The only film documentation of this project is in the archives of the late René Yañez held at the Bancroft Library.

Guillermo Gómez-Peña suspended from a crucifix at a beach.
Protesting immigration policy in California: GP during The Cruci/Fiction Project, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, 1994. Photo: Cinthia Wallis
Roberto Sifuentes suspended from a crucifix at a beach.
Sifuentes at The Cruci/fiction project, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, 1994 Photo: Cinthia Wallis
Lothar Muller re-enacts the Cruci-Fiction at a 1700's Chapel in downtown Mexico City, 2012.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña seated inside a glass cabinet holding a white chicken, and surrounded by ritual artifacts.

Temple of Confessions

1995 to 1996

With Roberto Sifuentes

This itinerant and interactive performance/installation is an early work credited to La Pocha Nostra, Gómez-Peña’s transdisciplinary art organization.

Temple of Confessions presents two "end-of-the-century saints" from an "unknown border religion," in search of sanctuary across the United States while gathering confessions on intercultural fears and desires. Designed as a theater of mythos and cultural pathologies, the "Temple" proposes a ceremonial space for the reflection on ethnic, racial, and gender prejudices. It is divided in three main areas: the "Chapel of Desires," displaying "El Pre-Columbian Vato" or "holy gang member" (performed by Roberto Sifuentes); the "Chapel of Fears," displaying "San Pocho Aztlaneca" (a "hyper-exoticied curio shop shaman for spiritual tourists" performed by Guillermo Gómez-Peña); and an enigmatic funerary vignette composed by performance objects. Paintings of other "hybrid santos" hang from the walls, two "chola nuns" take care of the temple, and visitors can leave their "confessions"; the most revealing ones are incorporated into the installation soundtrack for future performances.

Through a series of performative interventions in everyday life, as well as in museums, La Pocha Nostra creates the means for provoking in the "Temple" prospective audience an aura of expectation, a bearing witness of a mythology of intercultural fears and desires.

“The North stereotypes the South. In turn, the South internalizes these stereotypes and either reflects them back, commodifies them to appeal to the consumer desire of the North, or turns them into ‘official culture’. Meanwhile, national identity gets lost in this display of reflections and refractions. It’s like being inside a House of Mirrors.”

-Gómez-Peña, from an interview with ‘Reforma,’ Mexico City

Guillermo Gómez-Peña seated inside a glass cabinet holding a white chicken, and surrounded by ritual artifacts.
GP as “San Pocha Aztlaneca” inside a plexiglass box accepts confessions from his audience during "The Temple of Confessions,“ DIA Museum, Detroit, 1996
Roberto Sifuentes seated inside a glass cabinet surrounded by ritual artifacts.
Sifuentes at The Chapel of Desires, “The Temple of Confessions,” DIA, Detroit, 1996. Photo: Dirk Bakker
Audience members in confessional mode during performance in The Temple of X-Teresa, Mexico City.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña and a female dressed in ethnic garb expressing intercultural fears and desires toward Latinos, immigrants and people of color.

The Mexterminator Project

1997 to 1999

A 'political peepshow' of sorts, this interactive performance/installation functions as a living museum of techno-dioramas displaying a series of living 'multicultural Frankensteins' or 'ethno-cyborgs'.

The characters, created by La Pocha Nostra, are based on thousands of anonymous on-line responses by net users (www.mexterminator.com), re-interpreting their proposals for 'hybrid specimens' meant to embody Americans' expressed intercultural fears and desires toward Latinos, immigrants and people of color. The resulting dioramas involve physical interaction with the audience, encouraging visitors to engage in the reflection of their own psychological and cultural monsters.

The Mexterminator Project inspired the pop aesthetics of Robert Rodriguez films and the Hollywood craze for "Border Pulp" cinema.

“Natural Born Matones” (GP & Iranian feminist theorist and radical dancer Carmel Kooros) From the Mexterminator Project, 1997. Photo: Eugenio Castro
Guillermo Gómez-in sunglasses and a hat holding a toy gin and staff with a skull mask atop it.
GP as “El Mad Mex”. From the Mexterminator Project, 1997. Photo: Eugenio Castro
Latina woman in a bikini with a toy gun, knee and shoulder pads, high platform shoes.
Chicana performance and visual artist, biker & activist sex worker Isis Rodriguez as “La Super-chicana Dos.” Mexterminator Project, 1998.
Roberto Sifuentes in latino cyborg garb. Machete in right hand, sunglasses, metallic prosthesis surrounding his left arm.
“Ciber Vato” (Sifuentes) From the “Mexterminator Project,” San Francisco, 1997. Photo: Eugenio Castro
“El Stelarc de Tijuana" Photo by Eugenio Castro, 1997. In the world of LPN, technologies rebel against identity.
“Faux Movie Poster” Mexico City, 2019
Guillermo Gómez-Peña in a black leather vest and hat with right armed salute. Latino gang member on stage in the background with a woman in a dark dress nearby,

Borderscape 2000

1997 to 1999

Described as a "high-tech Aztec Spanglish lounge operetta," this performance works through and with Chicano stereotypes -- featuring the Cyber Vato, the Mexterminator, the Transvestite Mariachi and other Pocha Nostra "cultural specimens" -- in order to address and examine border-crossing issues of race, gender, language, religion, politics, commodification and multiculturalism.

The deadend of multiculturalism.” Rustom Bharucha

Guillermo Gómez-Peña in a black leather vest and hat with right armed salute. Latino gang member on stage in the background with a woman in a dark dress nearby,
Scene from the performance operetta “Borderscape 2000”, New World Theater, Amherst, MA, 2000.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña in a leopard print vest, leather collar, and black hat. A figure in the background with bound face.
Portrait of GP during the performance of “Borderscape, 2000
“Intergenerational Conflict” GP and Sifuentes in Washington, DC.
LPN Crashing “The Mexican Pavilion” ARCO Madrid, 2005
"Fashionable Extremism" Emiko R. Lewis at Detox Festival, Norway.

The History of “Western Art” in 15 Minutes

A crash course on queering and/or racializing art history. (1992-End of Empire)

1999 to 2000

A recurring theme in Gómez-Peña’s work has been an obsession with rewriting and restaging so-called “Western Art History” while highlighting colonial legacies of systematic exclusion, demonization and fetishization of Brown, Black and indigenous bodies.

By 2010, in collaboration with Saul Garcia Lopez and Michele Ceballos Michot, the project evolved as a lecture-style performance presentation including a troubling “lecture/demo on race & gender power relations in the museum.” This satirical performance was presented by the artists in the form of “living and dying dioramas” both tracing and reinventing “the western canon” as taught by universities and art schools. They often incorporated to the taxonomies of the live images, local social phenomena and artwork from the collection of the hosting institution, wherever the piece was performed.

This ever-unfolding series is part of La Pocha Nostra’s current performance repertoire. What follows is a selection of these projects.

“For over 30 years Gómez-Peña has occupied a space somewhere between the terminus of Western Civilization and the underbelly of modernity, where Hi-tech Aztec, Cyber Pocho and Superbarrio contend for a White House bid. Their nation––Imagi-nation––inhabits a locus vacillating on the edge of censorship––más allá, on the other side of an imaginary line drawn in the sand, against an ever-vanishing horizon. “ --William Stark

"Latin American culture and Latin Americans (including chicanos) have always been on display for Europe and the U.S: from zoos and circuses, to concert halls and contemporary museums, from living dioramas to festivals. We have always performed the role of "exotic others" for a European bas-relief and for the European flaneur cum North American tourist...and museum visitor.” -GP in an interview with Kim Sawchuck, Parachute Magazine, Canada.

Below the photos are two classic Pocha Nostra videos dealing with politics of representation and the brown body within the museum.

GP at age 23 as a late 19th century “Colonial Mestizo,” his first performance dealing consciously with identity. Mexico City photo studio, 1978.
GP and Sifuentes kneeling in front of a Van Gogh painting @ the DIA Museum in Detroit. 1995. (TRIVIA: GP is wearing a real straightjacket)
“Reenactment," From the photo-performance portfolio “Post-Mexico en X-paña,” Madrid, 2005. Photo: Javier Caballero.
“The Death of the Avant-Garde: Post-Colonial Pieta #69”. GP & Nic Lyons at Left Space, San Francisco. Photo by RJ Muna, 2010
“Against Gauguin,” Savvy participant of a Pocha Nostra workshop challenges French Orientalism; Argentina, 2004. Photo: Ramon Teves
“Geisha Apocaliptica”. From the photo-performance portfolio “The New Barbarians.” Photo: James McCaffry, RIP. San Francisco, 2004.
Auctioning refugee performance artists, “New Barbarians” @ Arnolfini, Bristol, 2007. Photo courtesy of Helen Cole
"Balitronica on a broomstick after taking too much Mugwort" by Albert Joseph Penot ( in collaboration with Gómez-Peña). Museum of Fetishized Identities. 2020
From the “Pandemia Art” Series. The Auction - “Here, Mexican artist made in Taiwan w/ body parts assembled by German curators in Tijuana maquiladoras. Property of the Museum of Binational Fetishes. GP (left) and Keisuke Hayashi (right), 2020

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La Virgen del Cruce

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Ladrón que Roba a Ladrón

Guillermo Gómez-Peña seated with cyber-ethnic costumery and sunglasses next to a standing woman looking upwards with pale hair, sombrero, and a black and white dress.

The Living Museum of Fetish/ized Identities

1999 to 2002

Credit: La Pocha Nostra

The Living Museum of Fetish/ized Identities is a project of La Pocha Nostra. Part nightclub, part theatre, part church, part peepshow, the work is a hyperactive, participatory kaleidoscopic experience of identities, perceptions and realities. It was conceived of as 'experimental curiosity cabinet', a sort of living museum where participants exhibit constructed 'hybrid personas' based on their own complex identities and personal sense of race and gender. These 'cultural especimens' compose a diorama of fetishized identities, addressing issues of appropriation of hybridity by corporate multiculturalism.

It is considered a groundbreaking work combining performance, installation and extreme audience participation.

"I believe in the power of decorating and aestheticizing the brown body in order to exaggerate, challenge and problematize mythical notions of the Mexican Other. In the American imagination, Mexicans are allowed to occupy two different but strangely complementary spaces: We are either unnecessarily violent, hypersexual, treacherous, cannibalistic and highly infectious; or innocent, ‘natural,’ ritualistic and shamanic. It’s the barbarian vs. the noble savage narrative replayed over and over again. Both stereotypes are equally problematic and colonizing.”-From Gómez-Peña’s performance diaries.

Guillermo Gómez-Peña seated with cyber-ethnic costumery and sunglasses next to a standing woman looking upwards with pale hair, sombrero, and a black and white dress.
“Posesión Ritual” during The Museum of Fetishized Identities, GP & museum curator, The Space, Sydney, Australia, 2000

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“Pocha Nostra Royalty” (GP and Rachel Rogers), From “The Museum of Fetishized Identities”, Tate Modern, London, 2003. Photo courtesy of Live Art Development Agency.
“Australian Diorama” Juan Ibarra and wax figure of caucasian male figure at the Sydney Biennial.
Museum (or bar? we don't remember...) intervention by LPN with Andres Serrano (Piss Christ)
"Same sex wedding in Curaçao” Re-enactment of the Museum of Fetishized Identities, 2010.

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LPN jams in Norway, 2004

The Great Mojado Invasion

2001

Gustavo Vazquez

This video has been newly re-mastered in light of the current Trumpocalypse!

In The Great Mojado Invasion (The Second US - Mexico War), writer/performer GP and filmmaker Gustavo Vazquez combine Chicano wit and political vision to create an ironic, post-millennial and postmodern look at the future of U.S./Mexican relations. Both artist and director generate a complex commentary on history, society, pop culture, the politics of language and the repercussions of ethnic dominance. Like a ghost from the future, Gómez-Peña (also known as the Border Brujo and El Webback) narrates this "mock-umentary," which envisions a queue of mojados ("wetbacks") who reconquer lost Mexican territory to establish the new "U.S. of Aztlan." This pseudo-documentary presents a fictionalized account of the history of the current state of affairs, from pre-Columbian times to the immediate future.

The video begins at the inception of a second U.S./Mexico war. This time, contrary to history, Mexico is victorious. The nation-state as we currently know it has collapsed. The ex-U.S. of A. has been fragmented into a myriad of micro-republics loosely controlled by a multi-racial junta and governed by a Chicano prime minister appointed as El Gran Vato. "Spanglish" is the official language, treating the monolingual viewer as a "nomadic minority." Panicked by the "New Borders," Anglo militias desperately try to recapture the "Old Order." The "New Aztlan Regime" propagandizes itself by satirically depicting Anglos with the same stereotypes currently utilized against Latinos: a portrayal of dumb, lazy, violent, drug-taking lunatics who are demonized as "alien" invaders from outer space.

As the video moves through time, the artists reveal found-footage from Mexican B-movies and U.S.-made films depicting Latinos (e.g., The Three Amigos, Under the Volcano, Altered States, Disney animation, etc.). The outcome is a "whirlwind tour of Latino stereotypes in film.

Film trailer below. To purchase the full video please visit Video Data Bank.

"As in most of his work, Gómez-Peña toys with an underlying meta-theme: the fear and/or embracing of a psycho-sexual-political-racial borderland identity. Through the juxtaposition of clips from campy Mexican genre films (sci-fi, wrestler, soft porn, historigraphical, and other exoticized kitsch) against stereotypes long popular in Hollywood, Gómez-Peña, along with his accomplice Vazquez, fabricates a videographic hall of mirrors. The result is a multifaceted reflection shifting between fiction and the realities that expose the depth of internalized racism in this country. Gómez-Peña and Vasquez attack hard reality with large doses of irony and black humor." VDB

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The Great Mojado Invasion

The Mapa/Corpo Series

2004 to 2009

With Violeta Luna and Roberto Sifuentes

With "Mapa/Corpo", La Pocha Nostra members Gómez-Peña, Violeta Luna and Sifuentes (and later on Maria Alejandra Estrada and other performance artists throughout the Americas) create a performance setting that is both live jam session and reflective ritual zone. The full environment experience ultimately allows the audience to co-direct the fate of the performance by incorporating symbolically charged actions and imagery with those of the artists.

In this “interactive ritual for the new millenium” Luna lies on a surgical table covered by the flag of the UN. Behind the body, an acupuncturist dressed in a lab coat prepares for surgery, laying out 40 needles. A small flag is attached to the tip of each needle, each representing a nation of the "coalition forces.” A doctor methodically inserts the needles into her body/map, leaving the audience to ponder the after-image of a "colonized" female body/world. The audience was then asked to "de-colonize the Mapa/Corpo" by carefully removing the flags with the assistance of the acupuncturist/doctor.

Gómez-Peña has said about this project: “As live artists, our task is to create living metaphors that articulate a new aesthetic, culture, spirituality and a sexuality that emerge out of the ruins of our Western civilization.”

Using the human body as a site for political reinvention and poetic prophesying, La Pocha explores both the legacy of fear of the Other -- the criminalization of the brown body inherited by the Bush administration, and the emerging culture of hope, imagination and faith that has developed in response to the former world order. The resulting performances tackle this historic moment of dramatic reinvention by looking into the immediate past and attempting to manifest a possible future without resorting to quick fixes and false hopes.

A brief history of the Mapa/Corpo series:

In this series, La Pocha re-examines the human body as a site for radical spirituality, memory, penance, activism, stylized anger and corporeal reinvention. The first in the series (Mapa/Corpo) toured internationally from 2003-2010 offering a poetic, interactive ritual that explored neo-colonization/de-colonization through political acupuncture and the reenactment of the post-9/11 "body politic."

The second part of the series (Divino Corpo) was a performative temple where the sacred and the profane intertwined with racy contemporary issues. In this project the artists posed as living saints and Madonnas of unpopular causes (border crossers, undocumented migrants, prisoners, the infirmed and displaced invisible others) in an attempt to articulate a radical spirituality located in the body that emerged out of the debris of war.

The latest performance in this series offered a reinactment/performative languaging of the criminalization of the brown body titled Corpo/Ilicito: The Post-Human Society 6.9. The project premiered in early 2010 at the La Habana Biennale (Cuba) and at the Trouble Festival in Brussels (Belgium). Other versions were performed at PRISMA in Oaxaca (Mexico), the Three Rivers Art festival in Pittsburgh (US) and El Arte es Acción in Madrid (Spain).

Colombian performance artist Maria Alejandra Estrada & “accupuncturist priest”, Mapa-Corpo, Buenos Aires, 2007.
Peruvian performance artist Amapola Prada prepares the body of Sifuentes for Mapa Corpo, Hemispheric Institute gathering, La Recoleta, Buenos Aires, 2007
GP & Violeta Luna performing Mapa Corpo against the famous Diego Rivera mural, Rivera Court, DIA Museum, Detroit. Photo: Dirk Bakker
Brazilian performance artist Filipe Espindola during a Mapa Corpo Reenactment, Teatro Gilberto Gio, Rio de Janiero. His body is bearing the flags of the Latin American countries afllicted by organized crime violence. 2010.
“Corpo Ilcito,” Havana Biennale, Centro Wilfredo Lam, 2010. Gomez-Peña & Sifuentes collaborate with local Santera. In that Biennial GP was supposed "unearth" his time capsule from 2005 buried underneath the floor of a gallery but they could not locate it because the curator Shifra Goldman (rest in peace) was not there to remind us of the exact site. Photo: Javier Caballero.

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"The Holy Trinity" GP, Sifuentes and Luna posing for Zach Gross in the "Divino Corpo Series"
Re-enactment of "Divino Corpo" a couple decades later. GP morphing into the body of Michele Ceballos. Photo by RJ Muna.
LPN performs an “exorcism of the Tech Industry” at the gorgeous Fort Mason Chapel, San Francisco. In the photo: Eliza Hartwood (acupuncturist) and Balitrónica (Body Map).

The Mexorcist

2006 to 2008

In this performance, Gómez-Peña assaults the demonized construction of the US/Mexican border-a literal and symbolic zone lined with Minutemen, rising nativism, three-ply fences, globalization, and transnational identities. To this effect, the “border artist extraordinaire” uses acid Chicano humor, hybrid literary genres, multilingualism, and activist theory as subversive strategies. In this journey to the geographical and psychological outposts of Chicanismo, Gómez-Peña also reflects on identity, race, sexuality, pop culture, politics and the impact of new technologies in the post-9/11 era.The Mexorcist, one of Gómez-Peña’s first truly solo works, was performed in multiple iterations, and under multiple subtitles, over 5 years. It sparked him to begin exploring a body of spoken word performance solos that he continues to develop and perform to this day.

Gómez-Peña in black cape, black cowboy hat, holding an Asian fan in one hand and with a white Freddy Krueger style knife-glove in the other.
Poster for GP’s “El Mexorcist” solo performance. Photo: Manuel Vason, Liverpool Biennial, 2002
Classic portrait of GP by Zach Gross publicizing solo work. Circa 2010-2018
“The Three Fridas” GP and his alteric selves - preparing for a solo tour. Photo by Zen Cohen.

La Nostalgia Remix Series

2006 to 2017

With James Luna

Since the early 1990s, conceptual artist James Luna and Gómez-Peña worked on an ongoing project titled “The Shame-man meets El Mexican't,” in which the duo challenged assumptions and lazy thinking about ethnicity and culture in our society infused with a strong dose of melancholic humour and sharp-edged conceptualism.

"La Nostalgia Remix" was the last project in “The Shame-man…”. It was launched in 2006 and used nostalgia as style, a form of resistance and community reinvention. Using performance, writing, photography, video and interventions in seedy bars, La Nostalgia Remix involved a series of live performances that explored the cultural, symbolic and iconographic dimensions of nostalgia both on the Native American "rez" and in the Chicano "barrio."

"La Nostalgia Remix: Solid Gold" was a culminating performance anthology of the artists’ past collaborations in the form of a live art record album and a series of performances inspired by a chance game of routlett. In this final project, the artists challenged the audience to move, groove and experience the performance actions from multiple perspectives and “git down” to participate in the celebration of the end of western civilization.

Gómez-Peña and James Luna dressed in suit coats singing into microphones
GP and James Luna performing La Nostalgia Remix. Photos by RJ Muna, 2010
GP and Luna by RJ Muna
GP and Luna's "Busted" Reenactment. While working at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the artists got busted for "smoking dope" (incense) and paradoxically this photo is now in the Smithsonian Archives.
Funeral re-enactment of the two artist’s deaths. GP, Luna and "unidentified mourning widow" San Francisco, 2007. Photo by James McCaffry
Bar Invasion in San Francisco: a Tribute to Orson Wells” Photo by RJ Muna

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James Luna & GP talking shit at a SF dive bar after all day photo shoot.

El Corazón de la Misión

2007 to 2010

In 2007, in response to rampant gentrification & evictions, Gómez-Peña and Violeta Luna premiered a 3-year project entitled El Corazón de la Misión, a performance bus tour guiding the audience through a poetic/performative “vernacular anthropology” in the heart of San Francisco’s iconic Mission District.

The passengers of this politicized tour on the “Mexican bus” were invited to participate in a procession as if they, too, were characters on a parade float. They witnessed “the creative neighborhood” and the city as a “bohemian theme park”, using the windows of an immigrant bus as a vantage point to watch the streets while simultaneously eavesdropping on the artist’s mind. People on the street became involuntary performers on the stage of Gomez-Peña’s neighborhood and living metaphors of a transient border zone.

“This poetic journey across the social realities and erased histories of a mythical Mission District invoked a pantheon of collective gods and goddesses buried by globalization and urban hipsterism - passion, civility, compassion, boldness, fantasy & political imagination. Presenting the city in this light was reminiscent of how tourism frames other bohemian destinations such as Barcelona, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Oaxaca and pre-Katrina New Orleans.” -Nola Mariano (writer/producer)

Violeta Luna during the Pocha Nostra Bus Tour “Corazón de la Misión”, San Francisco, 2008. Photo: Katia Fuentes
Krissy Keiffer and “the dikes on bikes” hanging out outside Cafe La Boheme, 2 block’s from GP’s studio. Photo: Courtesy of LPN.
“La Madona del Servicio Público.” LPN uses the city murals as backdrops for public performances during the bus tour, 2008. Photo: Katia Fuentes

Performance Conversations

2010 to 2011

For Gómez-Peña collaboration has always been an expression of radical citizenship.

In 2010, Gómez-Peña formally began a series of collaborative ‘duets’ with international fellow artists under the loose title of “conversations across borders."

In the original press release he stated:

"What propels us is the fight against cultural and political isolationism, legacies of the Bush era; the search for a new democratic art practice and a new spirituality centered in the human body that emerges out of the debris of war & the collapse of the global project. I am particularly interested in collaborating with artists whose practice is slightly or dramatically different from mine but with whom I am connected by a long-term friendship and mutual admiration. Our goal is to use the museum, gallery or other historically charged space as the site to compare notes and performance strategies and coexist.

I begin new projects with activist preacher Reverend Billy, Cuban conceptual artist Tania Brugera, Lebanese-American photographer RJ Muna, Chicano comedian Richard Montoya, Mexican electronic composer Guillermo Galindog, the rock band The Size Queens, Native Collective Postcommodity, VestAndPage (Andrea Pagnes and Verena Stenke), Francesca Carol Rolla, Brazilian choreographer Marcela Levi, Marceli Antunez and Mexican performance diva Maria Eugenia Chellet, etc."

Perhaps the most successful of these collaborations was that with radical activist preacher Reverend Billy. Here’s an excerpt of a conceptual press release: “In a radical move to form the biggest, wildest mega-church of the 21st century, the congregations of the Church of Stop Shopping and the apostles of the Mexiconspiracy of Borderasure, we have decided to merge in an interfaith wrestling match! Join with us in celebration as fellow preachers in the wilderness, the Reverend Billy and El Shamex Gómez-Peña consecrate our hopes and exorcise the demons of art, activism and political despair.” Please see video of this collaboration below.

“Poetic Wrestling Match”
Photo of young GP and Ashley Bickerton (Neo-Geo) jamming in Los Angeles, 1979
GP and Felipe Ehrenberg posing for street photographers at the Basilica de Guadalupe, 2008.
GP and Congelada de Uva (Posnacional 1) "La Cortez no quita lo Malinche"
GP and Tania Bruguera goofing around at Cafe Barbieri. Photo by Javier Caballero, El Arte Es Accion, Madrid.
Franko B and GP emasculated by Facebook.
Brazilian choreographer Marcela Levi in conversation with GP. Festival Panorama, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
GP performs a tribute to Finnish performance artist Roi Vaara
“Black Widow” La Saula and Maria Eugenia Chellet at GP's home in Mexico City. Photo by Herani Hache

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Border Hamlet: A tribute to Annie Sprinkle’s Tit Ballet. GP in conversation with Mexican filmmaker Gustavo Vazquez.

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Reverend Billy and GP at GALA Theater, Washington, DC 2010

Posnacional Series

2013 to 2020

With Saula Garcia López

Beginning in February of 2013, Gómez-Peña began a series of performance workshops and “jams” between “national” and “post-national” artists from Mexico and the U.S. Curated and directed by the artist, as part of his Posnacional project, these multiple collaborations between artists from both sides of the border and three generations take the form of live performances, workshops, theoretical dialogues, poetry slam festivals and photo-performance sessions. The “re-encounters” take place in multiple sites across Mexico, in cities undergoing crime cartel violence and extreme forced migration to the US.

These Reencuentros are meant to reconnect La Pocha Nostra and the Chicano artists that they bring with several generations of performance artists in high migration areas, to increase involvement in the radical pedagogy of performance in the "other" Mexico. These residencies also contribute to the development and professionalization of performance art in Mexico.

In the second phase of this project (2017-2020) Gómez-Peña explores recurring themes from the initial series including: violence, racism, identity crisis in both countries, forced migration to the "other side", the intergenerational abyss in the performance art community, and the anti-immigrant policies of the Trump Administration.

The portfolios in the Posnacional/Reencuentros series aim to debunk the traditional binary of photographer/model, instead giving equal creative agency to each individual collaborator. At the same time, they present wholly integrated, synergetic works with all elements engaging in dialogue. By framing the images as a truly collective, democratic work, La Pocha Nostra hopes to encourage viewers to unpack complicated issues of authorship, ownership, credit and criticism.

(The original 8-year old visual memory of this project was erased overnight by Tumblr under their new "community friendly clause".)

The remaining portfolios from the series can be accessed here.

“The North stereotypes the South. In turn, the South internalizes these stereotypes and either reflects them back, commodifies them to appeal to the consumer desire of the North, or turns them into ‘official culture’. Meanwhile, national identity gets lost in this display of reflections and refractions. It’s like being inside a House of Mirrors.”

-Gómez-Peña, from an interview with ‘Reforma,’ Mexico City

"Welcome to Latin America!" (The collaborating artists chose to remain unidentified.) Photo by Herani Hache.
"Amantes trans/fronterizos". The iconic photograph of GP and Balitronica by Manuel Vason at the artists' San Francisco Studio. Photo by Manuel Vason, 2016.
GP and La Chica de Monsanto. Photo by Herani Hache, 2014.
“7 Ways to kill a the Mexican" Balitrónica le demuestra al público como matar a un mexicano en California, 2014.
"El Mariachi Zombie de Culiacán" La Saula exposes America's Mexiphobia. Photo by Norma Patiño.
“The Archbishop and her weekend fetish” Lothar Mueller and LB. Templo de X-Teresa, Mexico City. Photo by Norma Patiño.
Polemic image of La Pocha Nostra making fun of Alvarez Bravo’s infantilized Indigenism. Photo by Norma Patiño.
GP as "El kinky bear". Photo by Juan Carlos Ruiz Vargas en CDMX. 2018
"Body Map in the Trump Era" La Saula by Juan Carlos Ruiz Vargas.

The Phantom Mariachi

2015 to 2020

With Balitronica Gómez

In early 2015 - as the “post-gentrification” era became harder and harder to ignore and more virulent than ever before - La Pocha Nostra performance troupe began to think of ways to address complex issues facing our immediate Bay Area community (San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley) in performative, playful and highly visible ways.

The Phantom Mariachi made her public debut in the 2015 San Francisco Pride Parade as part of the leading entourage of “the Ecosexuals” (Annie Sprinkle, Beth Stephens, Gómez-Peña & crew).

The persona of the “Phantom Mariachi” features a black spandex Sentai-suited “anonymous” woman (we are not disclosing her identity) wearing a mariachi hat, high heels and bearing a bar-code that directs onlookers to political statements viewable online. Other times she holds placards with statements like: “Against the erasure of complex identities and eviction.” or “Trump no existe.”

This bold persona appears as a walking censorship bar. She silently speaks of the devastating erasure of complex identities. She is a symbolic inhabitant of past, present and future of all “creative cities”-gone wrong.

The goal of this real-life Super-Heroine is to inspire people in San Francisco and other cities undergoing similar processes of extreme gentrification to respond with creative and critical commentary to their own local issues.

During public appearances, the Phantom Mariachi delivers poetry, takes selfies with audience members, engages in more staged photo opportunities, stages tableaux vivants with people in the streets, crashes politically questionable events, takes public transportation and ad libs with audience members and the unsuspecting/perplexed passer by.

This self-styled “Madonna of the Bohemian Others” has a more serious side bringing to light the seeming erasure and displacement of communities in the Mission district and other similar neighborhoods; in particular the many Latino families, artist, bohemian, queer communities and working class people, currently being evicted or deported.

Phantom Mariachi at The Cervantino Festival press conference. 2016.
Phantom Mariachi with the legendary "capo de la Mision" René Yañez (Chicano Godfather of GP, Rest in Power)
Phantom Mariachi with Colombian Writer/Curator Juliana Delgado Lopera at the SF Public Library, 2015
The Phantom Mariachi with curator Amy Vázquez, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, 2016 (The backdrop was designed by Tania Bruguera)

Adam and Eve in Times of War

2017 to 2020

With Saula Garcia López and Balitronica Gómez

"Adam and Eve In Times of War" is a performance ritual created by Gómez-Peña and La Saula. It includes a poetic/spoken word "mass" by Gómez-Peña and a participative live art ritual by Garcia-Lopez and Balitronica Gómez.

The performance articulates the contradictions of the ongoing colonial culture of violence in both countries and specifically parts of the Mexico-USA border controlled by crime cartel violence with the complicity of US mercenaries and gangs.

During the ritual component, La Saula & Balitronica engage in a performance ritual action inside the carcass of a large cow or pig corpse borrowed from the local slaugherhouse.

The artists invite audience members to reflect on the culture of violence against the "other" including migrants, indigenous peoples and, on the US side, Mexicans and refugees.

Like codices, Gómez-Peña's group performances are palimpsests through which layers of history and critique speak in (de)effaced languages whose grammar we are in the process of (re)constructing.“ -Eduardo Mendieta, Nepantla Magazine

The Premiere in Yucatan, Mexico, 2016. La Saula and Nayla Altamirano
El Galpon, Lima, Peru, 2017.
La Saula. Minimalist version with "piglet" from the local butcher shop. (don't worry we didn't kill it) Kunsthaus, San Miguel de Allende, 2017
La Pocha Nostra at the Festival Quatre Chemins, Port au Prince, Haiti, 2016. Right after the last earthquake and during the cholera epidemic.
Balitronica and La Saula perform "Adam and Eve" in Montreal, Mexico City & other places, 2016. Photo by Adrian Morillo.
“Negotiating US/Mexico Relations” at the Live Biennial in Vancouver, BC. Balitronica and GP during live performance.

The Most (un)Documented Mexican

2018 to 2020

The Most (un) Documented Mexican is a solo performance monologue work that draws from Gómez-Peña’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 US, 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 cameos by La Pocha Nostra troupe members Balitrónica and Saula.

Vintage photo of GP as a radio pirate performing "scary Otherness". Circa 1985.
GP performs as "El Moctezuma Junior". Walker Arts Center, 1993.
"El Quebradito" at GP's SF Studio. Photo by Zen Cohen. 2014.

Uroborus vs. Trump’s Wall Audio Anthology

An Audio Art Anthology

2018

Uroborus vs. Trump’s Wall is Gómez-Peña’s anthology of recordings from 1978-2018, including audio-art, performance, border poetry & weird songs performed against Trump’s imaginary border wall.

As part of Guillermo Gómez-Peña's ongoing "Posnacional 2” Project in Mexico, this is the artist’s second "Audio Anthology," a remasterized selection of his classic collaborative sound poems and audio art (with Guillermo Galindog, Greg Landau, Rupa Marya, the Size Queens and DJ Ricardiaco) as well as brand new recordings. The final mix was made at the 3CNUNO 2019 in Mexico city by DJ Ricardiaco and Rodrigo Castillo Filomarino. The creation of the podcast was made by Erin Fleming in San Francisco.

We Are All Aliens

2020

Ready for Bookings - can be virtual for 2020 or live in 2021.

Muza de la Luz as "Miss Illegal Alien". MAM, Mexico City, 2017
Jamming at MAM with over 30 performance artist from 8 different countries. Mexico City, 2017.
Jamming at LARVA (Laboratorio de Arte Variedades) with local artists, Guadalajara City, Mexico, 2016.
“Survivalist cyborg #69 (From the New Barbarian’s X-treme Fashion show). San Francisco, 2014. Photo: RJ Muna. The performer chose to not be identified.
“Mariachi Maja de Tijuana” (Holly Timpener). Montreal, 2016.

2020-21 The Pandemia Chronicles

2020, 2021 and beyond....

2020

Since lockdown began in March 2020, Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra have adopted a ¨hybrid lifestyle¨ where virtuality, media & film provide ways to continue creating work and reaching trans-national “live” audiences from different locations. As a collective, LPN never stopped creating and presenting performances, continually pushing the boundaries of how to adapt performance, installation, spoken word and living archives to the new enhanced virtual formats and the challenges posed by confinement.

Here is a selection of work that emerged from the heart of the multiple pandemics:

¨LIVE ART¨ IN THE VIRTUAL REALM:

Since 2020, la Pocha Nostra has presented a series of Zoom Broadcasts and bi-monthly virtual events including spoken word solos, poetry slams, intellectual salons, classroom visits, international performance workshops & festivals  - involving all Pocha Members and special guests from around the world.

A pedagogical milestone was hosting La Pocha Nostra’s first ever VIRTUAL bi-national annual international workshop. This experiment spanned over five weekly sessions beginning in early August 2020 and involved 36 artists from 10 different countries. The final event culminated in a wild performance art + film marathon open to the virtual public.

Zoom performance by Micha Espinosa, (2021)

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¨THE MEX FILES¨ WEEKLY RADIO BROADCASTS:

In mid 2020, Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra created a ¨Media Barrio Station.¨ They began to create, record and present “Gómez-Peña’s Mex Files: Audio Art & Strange Poetry from the US/Mexico Border” in collaboration with Lumpen Radio and Public Media Institute (Chicago), and Radio Nopal (Mexico City). The ongoing weekly podcast offers multilingual live radio and archival audio programs that address “the multiple pandemics of racism, sexism, xenophobia and neo-colonialism on steroids in the Trump Era.” This series presents samples of Gómez-Peña’s previous audio artwork (1980–2015) as well as newly created and recorded material about the times and lock-down.

The Mex Files shows available online here

Classic portrait of Gómez Peña at his Casa Museo in San Francisco, photo by Zen Cohen, (2018)

The Mex Files virtual keynote: An Open Letter to the Museums of the Future

On February 3, 2021, Gómez-Peña presented a performance keynote and call to action titled: An Open Letter to the Museums of the Future. As an insider/outsider artist, he has had an obsession with rewriting and re-staging so-called “Western Art History” while highlighting colonial legacies of systematic exclusion, demonization and fetishization of women and BIPOC. This performance keynote challenges contemporary art museum practices and calls for an open discussion regarding radical restructuring(s) from within. The artist invites the public to continue sharing their own open letters of such nature.

Video of keynote available here.

Tribute to F. Ehrenberg, a replica of the artist’s hand by Gómez Peña and César Martínez, (2019)

PERFORMANCE FILM:

Over the course of the pandemic, La Pocha Nostra got to work developing a collaborative filmmaking format, drawing directly from our own performance methodology and responding to the immediate artistic constraints posed by the multiple pandemias and prevailing culture of fear. The complete process of making the performance films is decentered, experimental, and collaborative, defying traditional filmmaking practice. Moviemaking against all odds but by any means necessary. We are currently working on 4 films.

La Pocha Nostra shooting a film in a colonial convent, Querétaro, Mexico. In the photo: Norma Flores, Roja Ibarra and Susana X. Photo by Herani Hache, (2021)

Films in Progress:

The San Francisco Living Archives - An anthology of experimental films by Gómez Peña and three generations of La Pocha Nostra members from the last 30 years. Here

Malinche in Times of Pandemia - A performance film by Gómez Peña & Jessica Fertonani Cooke exploring and retelling history of colonialism from the conceptual lens of the myth of the ultra complex character, La Malinche, and her multiple mythologies along with the fall of Tenochtitlan. Trailer

How to Survive the Pandemics? - A poetic and performative exchange between Gómez Peña & the European performance duo VestandPage (Verena Stenke and Andrea Pagnes). Sponsored by LADA (London), this poetic film is a chronicle of the first lockdown. Here

San Francisco Apocalypse - A film about the fall of empire and the creative city, with chicano filmmakers Gustavo Vázquez and Lalo Obregón featuring some of the wildest local musicians and performance artists residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Coming soon, here's a teaser

La Pocha Nostra performing at Pulque Para Dos (Cholula, Mexico), Federico Tello and Hugo Pulque, photo by Dandy Arriaga, (2021)
'On the other side of the Mexican mirror', original photos by multiple artists, digital experimental graphic by Leonel García, (2021)

Gomez-Peña’s Casa Museo: A Living Museum and Archive

2021-2022 and beyond

2021

“Most outstanding of all are an awesome array of solo exhibitions and projects at venues all across town…including Gómez-Peña’s thrilling takeover of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum” - Lori Waxman, The Chicago Tribune

“Every corner in the neighborhood is a utopian/dystopian space. Every space in the building is a potential performance space.” - Gómez Peña

A diverse archival collection representing 50+ years of border work and conceptual mapping of a unique interdisciplinary art legacy. The home of the living archives.

Responding to the times artists have had to reimagine their concept of “home” and “studio”. Since early 2020 La Pocha Nostra has been reconceptualizing their two headquarters - one in California and one in Mexico - as utopian spaces for spiritual survival, artistic reinvention and community meetings (virtually and in-person when possible).

The Casa Museo are two homes that connect Gómez Peña’s life, family and peers with his art. These experimental art spaces provide an open invitation to progressive historians, curators and artists wishing to engage critically with diverse histories and feature them more prominently and radically in the discourse of contemporary art.

Panoramic view of La Pocha Nostra's Casa Museo project in San Francisco during pandemia, photo by Robert Hernández, (2020)

The San Francisco house: This home in the Mission, Califas, connects the life of the artist with the larger Chicano experience and the international performance art world including moving testimonials of decades of performance art practice and cultural exchanges. A conceptual map of the upcoming dreams to be dreamed.

The Azcapotzalco, Mexico City house: La Nueva Santa María is a familiar neighborhood that boomed during the second half of the 20th century. At la casa de la Familia Gómez Peña, the family’s objects and art collection tell stories that go back to the roots of what the country is today. This includes living documents from different times and stages of Mexico’s history and its migrants, those who stay, the ones who never returned and those who keep leaving and coming back. Guillermo Gómez Peña’s lineage, present and future in the womb of the self.

THE LIVING ARCHIVES CURRENTLY ON VIEW: Gómez-Peña’s Casa Museo: A Living Museum and Archive is currently on view at the Jane Addams Hull House (Chicago) through May 2022.

“For Gómez-Peña’s Casa Museo: A Living Museum and Archive (September 9, 2021—May 29, 2022), pioneering conceptual-performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña (Mexican-American, b. Mexico City, 1955), takes up residence in Jane Addams Hull House Museum. The exhibition layers one house museum on top of two others, in San Francisco and Mexico City, highlighting the many affinities between the ideologies pursued by Gómez-Peña, Addams, and Hull-House.

Through sound and image, Gómez-Peña and his ever-evolving performance troupe, La Pocha Nostra, inhabit Jane Addams’s office, the original Hull-House library, Jane Addams’s bedroom, and other spaces throughout the Hull home. In residency at Hull-House, Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra, present a borderless world where geographic, municipal, gender and other borders are dismantled to allow public institutions to reflect and serve all."

Gómez Peña and La Pocha Nostra's Casa Museo in San Francisco, photography by Robert Hernández, 2021

2022 New Solo Work by Gómez-Peña

2022

“The Pandemia Chronicles” One-day and one night in confinement

A brand new spoken-word monologue & “live-action juke-box”

by Border Brujo extraordinaire Guillermo Gómez-Peña.

Touring beginning early 2022

Starting January 2022, Gómez-Peña is back on tour presenting his brand new solo titled "The Pandemia Chronicles" in which the artist presents his most recent performance texts from the past two years combined with classic work from his living archives.

Utilizing a casino roulette to select his spoken word texts and props, Gómez-Peña is unplugged, thinking out loud and articulating the challenges and possibilities of reinvention during confinement and in the midst of multiple pandemics.

This solo was premiered in Chicago as part of Gómez Peña’s retrospective at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum within the context of the MacArthur Fellows 40th anniversary programming.

This live performance keynote can be accompanied by a lecture, film screening or one-day workshop on a separate day.

Please contact us as pocha [@] pochanostra.com to discuss the possibilities.

Artist Statement 

“My new performance represents the fruit of my life’s work in all its iterations: live performance, lecturing, archiving, literary work, mentoring, community activism, all coming together to address the dangers of the times we live in with its disregard for human life and insidious undermining of democracy.

At this time in my life I am thinking as much about legacy as I am trying to continually produce socially conscious experimental artwork that is simultaneously plugged into the national debates. I have learned from decades of touring performance material to locations beyond the Border that a call to action - in the form of a work of art - has the power to elicit compassion and inculcate a desire for social justice.

For me performance art is a form of radical democracy and citizenship which depends on the presence of the audience/community to succeed. I view my approach to creating this hybrid piece as "performing the archives" for multiple contexts: The art world, academia, community and the media. I am particularly interested in connecting with a new generation of audience members who may not have been exposed to the history of my generation, performance art and the Chicano movement.”

‘La Loca’, classic portrait of Gómez Peña by Juan Carlos Vargas, Mexico City, (2019)

The Living Archives Project

2022

ANNOUNCING THE LIVING ARCHIVES PROJECT 2022

Alongside presenting & touring solo performances, keynotes and pedagogical projects we are formally dedicating the upcoming year to advancing Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra’s Living Archives Project. This includes the development and activation of a diverse archival collection representing 50+ years of border work and conceptual mapping of a unique interdisciplinary art legacy.

Current exhibition: Gómez-Peña’s Casa Museo: A Living Museum and Archive is on view at the Jane Addams Hull House (Chicago) through May 2022.

THE LIVING ARCHIVES PROJECT IS:

A physical archive of  50+ years of personal/historical performance art materials including original photography, video, props, costumes, letter, diaries, ephemera and more.

An ongoing and bi-national exploration of how artists transform and activate their homes, titled “The Casa Museo Project”.

A performative series of live responses, re-stagings, performative actions & the focus of Gómez-Peña’s latest solo work.

An ongoing experiment in archival interpretation and exhibition, as well as questions around “legacy”.

An intergenerational series of collaborations - live and literary - with peers and a younger generation of artists.

Media Projects including experimental films, radio shows, photo performance portfolios and numerous publications responding to the themes addressed by the “living archive” itself.

An evolving retrospective style exhibition that can be presented in large scale or smaller installations including physical objects, installation, text, media and film.

A conceptual, nomadic “institute” in search of willing partners, collaborators and presenters equally interested in exploring the concept of living archives and Casa Museo.

Casa Museo San Francisco. Photo by Robert Gómez-Hernandez, 2021.