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.
This article by Los Angeles artist Harry Gamboa, Jr. deals with the changing sense of Chicano identity, both individually and collectively, and how this is reflected in Chicano art. Gamboa challenges widely accepted, negative stereotypes of Chicanos and Chicano culture, proposing that artists have the unique ability and thus the responsibility to create new, more accurate representations of the Chicano experience. Gamboa introduces the term “urban exile” as a way of describing those artists invested in creating images that defy the negativism that has been launched against Chicano culture. He argues for the autonomy of artists and art production, so that he embraces visual expressions of political and social dissidence that aim to develop a more honest and effective Chicano art.
This essay was originally presented at the symposium, Images in Flux: The Changing Identity of Chicano Art, sponsored by the Social and Public Arts Resource Center (SPARC) and held in 1984 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, California. A part of the seminal art collective, ASCO, Gamboa participated in Conceptual and performance art that questioned Chicano stereotypes in the media, and he later became a prolific writer, photographer, and filmmaker after the group disbanded in the 1980s. In this essay, Gamboa takes advantage of his unique literary style that mixes biting satire with humor in order to revisit the state of Chicano identity, while reaffirming the importance of an artist’s social responsibility.