Guillermo Gómez-Peña, James Luna, and Violeta Luna

enc05_pena_luna_jp_LgPhoto/ Foto: Julio Pantoja

El Shame-man meets el Mexican't y la hija apócrifa de Frida Cola y Freddy Krugger in Brazil


Performance artist/writer Guillermo Gómez-Peña resides in San Francisco where he is artistic director of Pocha Nostra. Born in 1955 and raised in Mexico City, he came to the US in 1978. His pioneering work in performance, video, radio, installation, poetry, journalism, and cultural theory, explores cross-cultural issues, immigration, the politics of language, "extreme culture" and new technologies. A MacArthur fellow and American Book Award recipient, he is a regular contributor to National Public Radio, a writer for newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and Mexico , and a contributing editor to The Drama Review (NYU-MIT). He is currently in the process of producing an artist-made DVD featuring performance and video art of his own work and the work of over 30 of his international collaborators. Designed for screenings, video installations, intelligent TV and as a pedagogic tool.

James Luna is a Luiseno Indian and lives on the La Jolla Indian Reservation. In addition to being an artist, he works as a full time academic counselor at Palomar College near his home in North County San Diego, California. Luna believes that installation/performance art, which employs a variety of media such as objects, audio, video, and slides, offers "an opportunity like no other for Indian people to express themselves without compromise in traditional art forms of ceremony, dance, oral traditions, and contemporary thought." His installations have been described as transforming gallery spaces into battlefields, where the audience is confronted with the nature of cultural identity, the tensions generated by cultural isolation, and the dangers of cultural misinterpretation from a Native perspective. Using made and found objects, Luna creates environments that function as both aesthetic and political statements.

As a "Rez" resident, he draws from personal experience and probes emotions surrounding the way people are perceived within their cultures. In his installation/performances, Luna addresses the mythology of what it means to be "Indian" in contemporary American society and exposes the hypocrisy of the dominant society,which trivializes Indian people as romantic stereotypes. Luna's installation/performance art is provocative, often dealing with difficult issues affecting Indian communities, including socio-economic problems, substance abuse, and cultural conflict. He confronts these issues head-on, using humour and satire as both counterbalance and salve, to take what he describes as "the first step in recovery". Demanding a level of audience participation, he challenges viewers to examine their own prejudices. As one reviewer wrote, "The rich reward of Luna's probing performance pieces is learning more about our own cultural perceptions, learning where the edges are, where the discomfort starts. His voice and his imagery carry the gift that a good artist can bring -the enlarging of our conscience and the increased awareness of what it means to be human."

Perforamance artist and actress Violeta Luna has collaborated with La Pocha Nostra and Guillermo Gómez-Peña since 1998. Luna has participated with distinguished theatre directos in different events in Mexico and in the United States. Her work explores the relationship between theatre and performance. Born in Mexico City, Luna studied at El Centro Universitario de Teatro, UNAM and La Casa del Teatro.

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