Thursday, August 16, 2007

Coco Fusco -- English Is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas-

Coco Fusco

In this series of essays, Fusco concentrates on examining the work of Latino/a performance artists born in the U.S., and the themes of “otherness” and culture clash. Performers such as Andres Serrano, Laura Aguilar, and Fusco’s longtime collaborator, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, are held up to the light for close consideration.

In the essay targeting her collaboration with Gomez-Pena, she details a performance done in public venues (museums, municipal buildings) where she and Gomez-Pena created a living exhibit, posing as “specimens” of a fictional indigenous tribe. They displayed themselves in a cage, with dress and talismans gleaned from Pan-Latino/a and popular culture. Her commentary on the experience, on being the observed ”other,” and what she saw as the fascination of the predominately Anglo audience as observer, underscored the themes of objectification and the blurring of public and private.

I had mixed feeling in reading about this performance. On the one hand, I think it was a bold and important artistic move to skewer the dominant culture's idea of 'preservation' and 'curation ,' to challenge it as a kind of pandering to that culture's fascination with they perceive as the 'exotic' indigenous. Never mind that in many cases, these exhibits are only possible as a direct result of colonialism, genocidal practices, and grave robbing. How different is Fusco's and Gomez-Pena's living exhibit behind bars from the guided tours held on the the rez, or in barrios, in farm worker camps?

I wonder to what extent the audience grasped that under the rubric of "Latino," there exists hundreds of complex societies, with a heterogeneity of language, practices, rituals. I'm concerned that the work only engenders the knee-jerk, superficial shudder of guilt in primarily white, middle-class audiences.

In the post-performance discussions of Housekeeper's Diary, the comments from some middle-class people reveal discomfort and their own lack of knowledge as to how to even treat their own maids in a more real, humane way. But there are also comments about what is the vitality and vibrancy of working people--comments about the inherent dignity they sense, despite an external objectification. This, to me is the kind of dialog and engagement I find most satisfying as a performer.

While those points of divergence are significant, I felt I had read something that will challenge me to keep thinking about the political context of performance. One last reservation with this book was Fusco’s tendency make referential comments about to different artists, without always placing them in context. This can make for a limited appreciation of the the work as a whole, as well as perpetuate an unfortunate tendency of performance artists conversing amongst themselves. (Particularly since Fusco plumbs the legacy of imperialism, colonialism in her work, it strikes me as odd that she gears her writing to the art intelligentsia. ) It's a challenge, however, worth the effort of cross-referencing and research for the reader.

ISBN-10: 1565842456
ISBN-13: 978-1565842458


Una Notita Del Teatro Luna (A Note from Teatro Luna)

Teatro Luna has a VERY exciting show opening in early November. It is called Machos, and it is based on interviews with 50 diverse men nationwide. Our ensemble members will be performing as men (we have a movement coach and everything) talking about their lives, their work, and, of course, women. If you'd like to bring a group of students to see the show, please contact We'd be happy to arrange a group rate, a post-show discussion, or even a classroom visit.

Volunteers Wanted!!!

We desperately need volunteers to help us transcribe the last few interviews. Transcription is a time-consuming, tedious process, but nothing could help us more as we work to finalize our script. We're looking for people who can dedicate 10-12 hours in the next week - a lot of ask, we know! In exchange, we will offer you your choice of $50, 4 tickets to MACHOS, or 2 VIP tickets to a MACHOS special event. And of course, a thank you in the program and our undying love. Well, at least MY undying love. I can't speak for everyone. if this sounds like something you can commit to, please e-mail Belinda at

Oye-Listen! Call for Submissions for September & November

So far, OYE-LISTEN! - a new collaboration between Teatro Luna and Jane Addams Hull-House Museum- has been a blast. Our June and July series had packed houses and vibrant performances from Yolanda Nieves, Sandra Santiago-Posadas, Lani Montreal, Francis Allende-Pellot, Gesel Mason, Toni Asante Lightfoot, Anida Yoeu Ali, Cristal Sabbagh, Andrea Wukitsch, Keiko Johnson and more. There's still time to join the fun! We are currently seeking performers for slots in September and November.

For submission guidelines or questions, please email to

Proyecto Latina - AUGUST 20th

The next Proyecto Latina is on Monday, August 20th @ 7 p.m. Our August feature is Stephanie Gentry-Fernandez, she shares from her collection of poems. As always there will also be Chisme box and open-mic . Free. Join us at Tianguis, 2003 S. Damen.

Stephanie Gentry-Fernandez A native of Chicago's South Side, has been involved with a number of organizations including Teatro Luna, About Face Theater, and el Cafe Teatro Batey Urbano. Stephanie has facilitated journaling and poetry workshops for young incarcerated women and adult female survivors of domestic violence. She moved back home to Chicago after a two and a half year stint in the hippy Bay Area. Her work addresses issues like anti-oppression, survival, healing, and hope. Stephanie is currently working as Associate Director of the Chicago Freedom School.

About Proyecto Latina: Proyecto Latina is a collaborative between Teatro Luna, Tianguis, and Mariposa Atomica Ink. We are excited about showcasing Latina talent and are always seeking outgoing Latina poets and performers for our monthly open mic series. Proyecto Latina takes place the third Monday of every month. Its an open mic so everything's game: Poetry, spoken word, music, monologues, shorts y en el idioma que prefieras. And if you're too shy to get on stage come and be one of the lucky spectators.

***Proyecto Latina takes place the 3rd Monday of every month.
Held at Tianguis Books
(2003 S. Damen, Chicago, IL)***

Teatro Luna Upcoming Season!

Get ready for a whole year of Teatro Luna! We have three brand new shows coming up.

Machos, a new ensemble performance based on interviews with men nationwide, opens November 8th. Solo Tu, a collection of four solo plays about four very different women, opens February 28, 2008. Restaurant Spanish, an ensemble play about immigration and communication, opens late summer (dates TBA).

Visit us at or

Lisa Alvarado

No comments: