Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

In this interview conducted by Mexican performance artist and writer Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Chicano artist Rupert Garcia discusses his perspective on Chicano art, particularly its relation to mainstream institutions and current theoretical trends. Although galleries and museums have shown an increasing interest in Chicano art, for instance, Garcia argues that such entities fail to recognize its complexity, demonstrate a preference for “inoffensive objects” over politically charged artwork, and pigeonhole such practices in a way that obscures their relevance to broader historical and cultural trends. The artist also defines Postmodernism not as a recent development, but one that began with the resistance to European colonization, particularly if this tendency is understood as a rejection of Modernism and the universalism of Enlightenment philosophy. Garcia outlines how Chicano artists deploy strategies of both quotation and appropriation, albeit with a critical perspective distinct from the superficial pastiche plugged by Postmodernism. The artist concludes by proposing a more complex understanding of Chicano art that avoids the kind of essentialism that replicates the binary models of dominant culture.

Annotations

This interview was conducted for inclusion in Rupert Garcia’s catalogue for the exhibition Turning It Around at the Alternative Museum in New York in 1994. The exhibition brought together a wide range of Garcia’s art from his political posters (1969–92) to his more recent pastels (1984–92) dealing with issues of globalization. The interview offers a more complete context for Garcia’s work at this important juncture in the development of his art, which included experimenting with different aesthetic strategies, such as creating juxtapositions within a single panel, by working in a range of media, by “expropriating” images from diverse sources, and by exhibiting in a variety of contexts. It also serves as an informal treatise on Garcia’s rejection of the imposition of an art historical “universality,” while at the same time it goes on expanding the discourse beyond worn-out notions of a single, “authentic” Chicano art.

Researcher
Tere Romo
Team
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
Credit
Courtesy of Rupert Garcia, Oakland, CA.
Courtesy of Guillermo Gomez-Peña, San Francisco, CA.
Courtesy of Alternative Museum, New York, NYC