Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

In this essay, Harry Gamboa, Jr. profiles the Chicano artist collective, ASCO, to which he belonged. He highlights Walking Mural (1972) as the performance that first introduced the group to the Chicano community. He describes how ASCO followed this with several years of conceptual performances, installation works, their No Movies series, and more, thus enacting the creative visions of its members: Patssi Valdez, Gronk, Daniel Martínez, Diana Gamboa, and the author himself. Gamboa focuses in particular on the 1983 participation of ASCO in the series of performances at the San Francisco Galería de la Raza, called Stages.Its contribution to the event included performances by Gronk (The Morning Becomes Electric), Marisela Norte and Daniel Villareal (Exito), and Humberto Sandoval and Gamboa (Void and Vain), as well as a “paper-fashion” show of disposable designs. By means of this document, Gamboa chronicles the artistic history of ASCO setting the stage for future performances and works by the group.

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As part of the seminal Los Angeles art collective ASCO, Harry Gamboa, Jr. participated in Conceptual and performance art that questioned stereotypes of Chicanos in the media. He became a prolific individual writer, photographer, and filmmaker after the group disbanded. In this essay, Gamboa utilizes his unique literary style that mixes visual poetics, biting satire, and humor to trace ASCO’s history from its earliest conceptual proposals to the more performance-based pieces; all of them written and performed by the expanded membership of the group. Even when utilizing various other media, Gamboa makes it clear that the group continued its assault on the status quo—whether on prevailing nationalistic definitions of “Chicano art” or on the dismissive mainstream art world. This essay also brings to the fore the high level of creative activity of ASCO even as it was heading for dissolution in the late 1980s.

Researcher
Tere Romo
Team
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
Credit
Courtesy of the author, Los Angeles, CA