The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this 1992 conversation, artists Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Coco Fusco discuss the notion of Latino identity and the possibility of an intercultural dialogue between U.S.-born Latino artists and Latin American artists. As a Mexican who emigrated to the United States, Gómez-Peña is interested in establishing communication and exchange between artists living and working in Latin America and those in the diaspora in the United States, often overlooked and forgotten in their countries of origin. Fusco sees the label “Latino” as a racializing and homogenizing invention of the dominant Anglo-Saxon culture. She seeks to undo both the Anglo-Saxon construction of Latino identity and various oppressive national projects of what she sees as criollo [white], male elites in Latin America. Thus, she argues for the notion of a multiple identity, one that includes sexuality, ethnicity, and class as issues that also pertain to debates about identity. Both Gómez-Peña and Fusco refuse to pander to Western-centered economic, political, and cultural elites, which—in their view—tend to privilege “sentimental,” ethnic-looking, exotic, or “primitive” art objects. Instead, they advocate for a critical artistic approach.
Originally published in Fusco’s collection of essays English Is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas (New York: The New Press, 1995), “Nationalism and Latinos, North and South: A dialogue” presents a conversation between then collaborators, artists/writers Coco Fusco (born New York, 1960), who is of Cuban descent, and Guillermo Gomez-Peña (born Mexico City, 1955). Their exchange records critical concerns and major tensions within identity debates at the moment of the rise of multiculturalism and postmodernism in the United States. From two distinct perspectives, feminist and Chicano, both Fusco and Gomez-Peña speak against the ameliorative incorporation of difference by established cultural institutions. [See also: Gómez-Peña, “The Multicultural Paradigm: An Open Letter to the National Arts Community,” document # 849066.] Since the late 1980s, Fusco, a Cuban-American artist, critic, and writer, established herself as a vocal figure challenging stereotypical representations of women and non-western peoples in the media and mainstream culture. [See “Coco Fusco,” document # 841409.]As artistic partners Fusco and Gomez-Peña are best known for their performance Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit … (1992–94), presented on the 500th anniversary of the “discovery” of the Americas in Madrid, Spain; London, United Kingdom; Washington, D.C.; Irvine, CA; and Minneapolis, MN. Within venerable museums, the artists displayed themselves in a cage as “undiscovered Ameridians” from an island in the Gulf of Mexico. [See “Aborigines of the Western World,” document # 799233].