The living art of Gómez Peña & La Pocha Nostra

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“For over 30 years, I’ve been obsessed with photographic documentation of my performance work always in dialogue with history. Why? As a self defined Chicano, I need to be in control of my image. If not, Anglo theorists and curators will. Throughout the years, I have been lucky to be able to work with amazing photographers such as Mexican Antonio Turok, Italian Manuel Vason, Canarian Teresa Correa, Spanish Javier Caballero, Lebanese-American RJ Muna, and Argentine Julio Pantoja, among others. In collaboration with my performance and photographer colleagues, we have developed amazing “photo-performance” archives and portfolios. Many of these photos populate my 10 books and myriad magazines, newspapers, websites, posters, brochures and even a few murals and comic books. Others are virtually unknown, especially those capturing projects which were invisible to the art world. Paradoxically these are my favorite images. What follows is a draft of the book I would love to publish including my favorite photographs ever taken; those iconic historical images I treasure due to their \ sentimental power, symbolic weight and historical significance. More than 30% of these images have never been seen before. 

The album is loosely arranged in the following order:

1.-My family’s vernacular performativity and my early years: ~Pages 1-2.

2.-My first involuntary and (semi) voluntary performances: ~Pages 2-3.

3.-Art school & early years in Los Angeles: ~Pages 3-4.

4.-The origins of border art (Tijuana-San Diego): ~Pages 5-6.

5.-Reverse Anthropology: Challenging museum representations of the Other: ~Pages 6-9.

6.-Mexterminator & beyond: La Pocha Nostra’s early projects: ~Pages 9-13.

7.-The performance workshop as the ultimate project: ~Pages 13-18.

8.-The new Pocha Nostra’s “ultra-baroque” aesthetics (2009-Ongoing): ~Pages 18-22.

9.-Selected photo-performance portfolios: ~Pages 22-27.

Arranged and updated by Emma Tramposch and yours truly, this ‘living archive’ documents ‘a lifetime of trouble-making and permanent artistic reinvention,’ or as a blogger noted, 'an archetypal immigrant story.' To understand the cultural and political context of every image and project, please refer to the “retrospective” link that appears in the cover page of our website (www.pochanostra.com). Bare in mind this is a work-in-progress: We are still fine-tuning exact dates and completing credits. In the future, as we add more unique photos, the viewer will hopefully find the complete names of the photographers and collaborating artists appearing in every photo. As you explore this visual diary, if you have information for a missing credit or you have a copy of a unique unpublished photo, please mail it to us at: pocha@pochanostra.com

Gómez-Peña, April, 2012

Year of the Wounded Coyote

(Note: Click on the smaller photos for a larger image. GP stands for Gómez-Peña)

Featured photo of the month: Classic portrait of GP as a deviant shaman
by Chicano photographer Xavier Tavera
  “There used to be a Mexican inside this body but something happened in the process…” 

Featured photo of the month: Classic portrait of GP as a deviant shaman

by Chicano photographer Xavier Tavera

“There used to be a Mexican inside this body but something happened in the process…” 


THE ORIGINS OF GOMEZ-PENA’S PERFORMATIVE FAMILY AESTHETICS
GP’s parents vacationing in Havana, 1948.

THE ORIGINS OF GOMEZ-PENA’S PERFORMATIVE FAMILY AESTHETICS

GP’s parents vacationing in Havana, 1948.

GP’s parents Don Guillermo (RIP) and Doña Martha. Mexico City photo studio.
Circa: Early 1950’s.

GP’s parents Don Guillermo (RIP) and Doña Martha. Mexico City photo studio.

Circa: Early 1950’s.

GP’s parents’ wedding, Mexico City, 1948

GP’s parents’ wedding, Mexico City, 1948

Most family photos from the 20s to the 50s were like living dioramas. Here, la familia
Gómez-Peña visits their ancestors at the cemetery, Mexico City, 1952

Most family photos from the 20s to the 50s were like living dioramas. Here, la familia

Gómez-Peña visits their ancestors at the cemetery, Mexico City, 1952

The Gomez-Peña family at a fiesta outside of his grandparents’ house. Mexico City, 1954, a year before GP’s birth.

The Gomez-Peña family at a fiesta outside of his grandparents’ house. Mexico City, 
1954, a year before GP’s birth.

The Gómez-Peña family had a strong sense of performative identities. Here, GP’s uncle
Ruben, his father Guillermo & grandfather “El Pipo,” pose as Hemingwayian bohemians 
before their (alleged) catches of the day, Acapulco, Mexico, circa. 1950

The Gómez-Peña family had a strong sense of performative identities. Here, GP’s uncle

Ruben, his father Guillermo & grandfather “El Pipo,” pose as Hemingwayian bohemians 

before their (alleged) catches of the day, Acapulco, Mexico, circa. 1950

GP’s great grandfather Carlos Baca at age 4(?) posing as the tiniest policeman,
Chihuahua City. Circa 1870s. This might be the oldest family photograph we have.

GP’s great grandfather Carlos Baca at age 4(?) posing as the tiniest policeman,

Chihuahua City. Circa 1870s. This might be the oldest family photograph we have.

GP’s first portrait ever at his family’s garden, 1956
TECHNICAL INFO: 1st OF 27 PAGES (TOTAL ALBUM CONTAINS 250 PHOTOS). WE INVITE YOU TO EITHER EXPERIENCE THE ENTIRE PROJECT CHRONOLOGICALLY BY FOLLOWING THE ARROWS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGES, OR TO EXPLORE THE COLLECTION NON-SEQUENTIALLY.  SIMPLY ENTER A PAGE NUMBER OF YOUR CHOICE AFTER THE FINAL BACK SLASH [/] IN THE URL.

GP’s first portrait ever at his family’s garden, 1956

TECHNICAL INFO: 1st OF 27 PAGES (TOTAL ALBUM CONTAINS 250 PHOTOS).

WE INVITE YOU TO EITHER EXPERIENCE THE ENTIRE PROJECT CHRONOLOGICALLY BY FOLLOWING THE ARROWS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGES, OR TO EXPLORE THE COLLECTION NON-SEQUENTIALLY.  SIMPLY ENTER A PAGE NUMBER OF YOUR CHOICE AFTER THE FINAL BACK SLASH [/] IN THE URL.