Doc/Undoc: Documentado/Undocumented; Ars Shamánica Performática

Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Felicia Rice. City Lights, $35 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-0-87286-720-8
Mexican-American performance artist, writer, and activist Gómez-Peña (The New World Border) collaborates with Rice, an artist specializing in bookmaking, to recreate an audacious multimedia exhibition in book form. In these collected poem-scripts of his performances, Gómez-Peña foregrounds his personal experience in America as an immigrant in a fearful country, where “we are constantly being reminded to be afraid,” and also as an artist negotiating his own self-doubt as well as the stereotypes of both liberal and conservative audiences. The resulting scripts can be bawdy, such as the amusing “Love Conversation with My Computer,” or painfully candid, such as “Dwelling in Unnecessary Wounds,” where Gómez-Peña wonders, “Pero, if only I had never left in the first place / what would have become of my life? / It would be considerably simpler.” Clear-eyed about the “immigration hysteria” in America, Gómez-Peña is too passionate an “experimental linguist, media pirate” to settle into pessimism, instead riffing on his themes with “the intensity of a self-inflicted wound or an orgasm” and finding joy in the scrambling of categories, as he imagines an orgiastic “borderless future” with “Lacandonian shamans exorcising multinationals at dawn.” His scripts are layered over and under Rice’s vivid, colorful sketches of angels, tigers, calaveras, and meticulously decorated El Caminos: all half-satirical, half-devout iconography of Chicano culture. The culmination is a thought-provoking work of art that defies categorization. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/09/2017
Release date: 11/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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