On Maryse Pique : Painter


I find myself in lush gardens ; up close and engulfed by the colors and fragrances of a dream memory of abstracted  seasons of experience, of innocence, an optical embrace ; the breath of  encompassing foliage and flowers ; the essence of these things, their brightness –sunbathed or subdued —  project the feeling of the presence of nature, of a natural state presented on canvas as if on a candy dish of sensory delights to be indulged in,  partaken as a gift of light and natural feeling that  denudes  over-intellectual conceits, though for all that stimulates  all the senses including those centered in the mind but equaled by the weight of the heart and the sentiments of openness, of surrender; a first state of acceptance of existence without judgement and how can that be ? To lay oneself open to the vulnerability innate in us all  in the face of presentiments of self-protection and cynicism not just in the world of art but the world in general is a brave and rare thing.

Maryse Pique simplifies experience to a matter of paint and canvas; experience and observation; experience of diverse cultures and genealogies; experience distilled to trust and passion through her palette and organization of paint into organic structures of self contained plastic cosmologies.

Breeze of Freschness

Her ability to balance the fluidity of these experiences on both an intellectual and sensory level is pretty remarkable in that one facility does not overwhelm the other, that there exists a real sense of distillation, of  conclusion; a resolve that creates a resounding harmony in her work which is extremely compelling.

Her paintings welcome one to sensations known but guarded; fragile yet substantial in a confirmation of memory and longing, of a potential return to a natural state, primary but not primitive, borrowing from abstract expressionist tomes and techniques of color and angular application of paint  built up in layers constructing environments of light and emotion.

Her canvasses are places of habitat where an embrace  invites  connection and reunification of something conjured through stillness and rhythm, motion and recovery through the observation of how these energies consolidate the colors of the world and summarize states of desire and being.

There is a visceral kinship to Mitchell, Frankenthaler, Krasner even Snyder, Gilliam or Styles but as with each of these artists, Pique emerges  as a singular voice whose synthesis of what’s come before– as footnote or primary influence– is resolved finally into her own summation of what she’s seen, heard, felt, longed for, lost or obtained in that universal garden of light and life.


Carl Heyward 




GENDER GAP BLACK LOGO FLYER AD high res Alvaro and Syporca

two works from Pique at Gallerie Renee Marie 

1038 First Street , Benicia, Ca 94510 USA

GENDER GAP: The Women of Global Art Project

MOVEMENT : GAP frag Project work by Maryse Pique with frags from Lawrence Philp / usa and Anne Brems / belgium

detail from MOVEMENT 

THE PAST :  Maryse Pique : GAP frag Project work with frags from Anne Brems / belgium



text by Alessio Guano 

Contemporary art is full of contradictions, new and old messages, reinterpretations and reconsideration based on ephemeral technologies and new interactive languages. Thought and Word, as well as the artistic gesture, took importance to the work view as “opus” or “doing” until the beginning of the avant-garde. One hundred years have passed since the historic day of 1917 when Marcel Duchamp, the founder of modern art, capsized a common urinal and signed it on behalf of R. Mutt. His action outraged the critics and bewildered the public; since then, the art system has laid its foundations not only on the art pieces, the artists and the discussion of art but also on its function and the need to share it.

12×12 inches on cradled wooden panel
mixed media

If one starts considering the hidden messages in the contemporary artwork as the artwork itself, it becomes possible to understand that what one observes does not have to necessarily meet their taste but to raise questions; since the last century art has become conceptual and given up the mimesis, realism, the interpretation of the truth and the faithful reproduction. The observant and educated artist is constantly immersed in a heterogeneous environment; influenced by external inputs – social networks, radio stations and television, the artist realizes how some individuals consider art that does not even resemble the human being in any way.


Art is more than a mere simplification: indeed, it is the effect that the deep and vast research of the artist has on their consciousness, as well as on the analysis of contemporary life, the flaws of men in the new millennium, their limits and dreams.

It is not easy to find artists willing to reconcile the individual research dedicated to this purpose to a more complex and intricate network of collaborations and exchanges. A concrete example of this kind of duality is, without any doubt, the work by the American artist, writer, curator and teacher Carl Heyward. He taught Film & Video Production at SF Academy of Art University, Thesis Writing & Presentation.

CARL HEYWARD work title I BEFORE E 24 x 36 inches on canvas mixed media frag from Heather Wilcoxon

A critical analysis of the work of Carl Heyward would be anything but easy. The artist, in fact, has taken different research paths: in his earliest career, he was influenced by other artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Antoni Tàpies, Salvador Dali and some of the most important Expressionists and Minimalists. Particularly in the research conducted in the last years, the openness to an artistic current was built upon the “sign” rather than on the “image”. These necessary gestures lead the artist not only to explore an inner world characterised by experiences and ideas but also to investigate the most profound needs of the contemporary art.

CARL HEYWARD work GAP FRAG PROJECT w HEATHER WILCOXON FRAG 25 x 36 inches on canvas mixed media 2020 title ESCALERA

Heyward combines an abstract language and a reinterpretation of the figure through abundant and layered fragmentations; his works could be described more as a journey, a constant flow of ideas coming from a drawer full of old magazines that give birth to a completed artwork shaped by over-paintings, slashes, lines, curves, blurred stains of colour tied to the fresh paint of the backgrounds and to the paper sheets soaked with history.


The lectures and the performative actions held by the artist are numerous: besides the workshops and the new and recent group artworks produced in several centres of contemporary art, Heyward creates his art pieces by performing individually. The performative aspect is undeniable and takes the role of helping the consciousness to show what is usually hidden. His investigation oversteps the irregularity and the “waste” thanks to the strength of his artwork: the gesture and spontaneity of the creation are signature of the informal vitality and do not produce static, geometric energy but something pure, elegant and authentic.



The daily workout, tied with the cultural depth of the artist, make the expressive strength a necessity: his recent artwork is occasionally represented by thick or light lines, whose fragility appears to be non-material; the art pieces do not belong to the reading difficulties arose from the challenges of the cultural debate.


The work of Carl Heyward wants to prove an influence on the contemporary life and that part of the public prone to raise questions about the meaning of life and the analysis of daily challenges by using a determined projection on the themes rather than making an impression: a feverish imagination, full of symbols and references, that involves shapes to emerge through proofreading and unexpected combinations.


It is thanks to the combination of these occasionally instigating symbols and references that the observer raises questions about the real meaning of the art piece. The artistic relationships of Carl Heyward and his collaborations with other foreign artists are countless and constantly evolving. It is necessary to remember, furthermore, that only recently he produced several projects such as the KNEE (jerk) Fragmentation Project, which was created in 2010 and involved the exchange of art pieces; in addition, the artist is the founder of Global Art Project, an international collaboration project which involves 25 participants from 12 different countries.



(Frags are fragments of canvas, paper, collage elements, fabric, found objects, laundry lists, newspaper clippings, Braille, shorthand, torn pages from books …the materials that serve as prompts for the creation of new works. They also serve as bridges toward remote collaboration via mail and the internet and provide one of a myriad of forms of the collaborative process; marks not mine offer fresh impetus to charge surfaces and imagination without the attachment to ownership nor stress of completion, ignoring or honoring the linear continuance of an impulse sparked by another)


68299393_2594476747270835_6297177051057094656_oBOXER SERIES (matadore) :
28 X 40 inches on laminated litho print stock



collaboration with Akiko Suzuki / japan :






*Alessio Guano is a writer, graphic designer, artist and curator living  in La Spezia, Italy


testo di Alessio GuanoL’arte contemporanea è ricca di contraddizioni, di nuovi e vecchi messaggi, di rivisitazioni e convinte ricerche improntate su effimere tecnologie e su nuovi linguaggi multimediali. Il pensiero e la parola, così come il gesto artistico, hanno preso posto dell’opera stessa vista, fino all’avvento delle avanguardie, come “opus”, ovvero come “il fare”. Sono passati cento anni dalla storica giornata del 1917 quando Marcel Duchamp, maestro e fondatore dell’arte moderna, capovolse un comune orinatoio e lo firmò a nome di R. Mutt, indignando la critica e creando sconcerto tra il pubblico. Da allora il sistema dell’arte ha posto le sue basi, oltre che sulle opere e sugli artisti, sulla discussione dell’arte, sulla sua funzione e la necessità di condividerla. Pensando semplicemente che il messaggio nascosto nell’opera d’arte contemporanea è l’opera d’arte stessa, capiamo che ciò che osserviamo non ci deve necessariamente piacere, bensì interrogare. A partire infatti dal secolo scorso l’arte è diventata concettuale, ha fatto a meno di mimesi, di realismo e della nobilitazione del vero, della sua fedele riproduzione. L’artista colto ed osservatore è immerso quotidianamente in un ambiente eterogeneo, influenzato da continui input provenienti dall’esterno – basti pensare ai canali social, alle tv e ai giornali – e spesso si rende conto che alcuni soggetti fanno passare per arte quello che neppure ci assomiglia, in una sorta di semplice assemblare, creare. L’arte è tutt’altro che una mera semplificazione: è ciò che la ricerca smisurata e profonda dell’artista fa emergere dal suo inconscio e dall’analisi sulla contemporaneità, sui vizi e sui difetti dell’uomo del nuovo millennio, sui suoi limiti e sui propri sogni. Non è facile trovare artisti disposti a conciliare la ricerca individuale dedita a questo scopo e ad una più complessa ed intricata rete di collaborazioni e scambi. Un esempio importante di questo dualismo è sicuramente il lavoro di Carl Heyward, artista americano, scrittore, curatore ed insegnante.
Un’analisi critica sull’opera di Carl Heyward risulterebbe tutt’altro che facile. L’artista infatti porta con se molti percorsi di ricerca. Nelle sue indagini, quelle in particolare maturate negli ultimi anni, troviamo un’apertura verso un filone improntato sul segno, piuttosto che sull’immagine. Questa necessaria gestualità porta l’artista ad esplorare non solo un mondo interiore colmo di esperienze e suggestioni, ma soprattutto ad indagare nelle più profonde esigenze del contemporaneo. Heyward accosta un linguaggio astratto e una rilettura della figura attraverso abbondanti e stratificate frammentazioni. Si potrebbe dire che le sue opere possano essere descritte come un viaggio, un continuo flusso di idee che parte da un cassetto colmo di vecchie riviste arrivando ad un’opera compiuta formata da sovra-pitture, sfregi, linee, curve, macchie di colore indistinte che si legano alla pittura fresca dei fondi o alle carte pregne e cariche di storia.
Numerose sono le azioni performative e le lezioni tenute dall’artista. Anche al di fuori dei workshop e dei lavori di gruppo realizzati anche recentemente presso numerosi centri di arte contemporanea, Heyward realizza le sue opere in una sorta di performance individuale. L’aspetto performativo è evidente e assume la funzione di far riemergere alla coscienza ciò che è abitualmente nascosto. La sua indagine oltrepassa disuguaglianze e “scarti” grazie alla forza delle sue opere: il gesto e l’immediatezza della realizzazione sono tipiche della vitalità informale e ne risulta energia pura, difficilmente statica e geometrica, spesso elegante e sincera. L’esercizio fisico quotidiano, legato alla profonda cultura dell’artista, fa di un’esigenza, la forza espressiva: le sue opere recenti sono a tratti dense, a tratti leggere – di una leggerezza non materiale- esulano dalle difficoltà di lettura messe alla prova dal confronto culturale. Il lavoro di Carl Heyward vuole testimoniare un influsso sulla contemporaneità, si rivolge a quella parte del pubblico propensa ad interrogarsi sul senso del proprio esistere e sull’analisi delle problematiche quotidiane, facendo uso di una forte proiezione sui temi piuttosto che sull’apparire. Un fare febbrile, ricco di simboli e rimandi radicati nell’immaginario collettivo, che riemergono attraverso riletture ed accostamenti inattesi. E’ proprio grazie a questi accostamenti di simboli ed immagini, spesso provocatorie, che l’osservatore viene ad interrogarsi sul vero senso dell’opera. Le frequentazioni artistiche di Carl Heyward e la sua attività di collaborazione con artisti da tutto il mondo sono numerose e in continua evoluzione. Bisogna infatti ricordare che, solo recentemente ha realizzato progetti diffusi come Knee Fragmentation Project, uno scambio di opere d’arte nato nel 2010 ed è fondatore del Global Art Project, un progetto di collaborazioni internazionali di 25 membri provenienti da 12 paesi differenti.             https://art2lifeacademy.com/inspiration-landing-page/inspiration-17-carl-hayward/


SIMPATICO Fourth Wall Gallery Oakland, California   Preparation for SIMPATICO; Carl Heyward and Jenny Hynes, a Two Person Show at the Fourth Wall Gallery; metamorphic. Since we began preparati…


I have to take a shower, before the babies get up from their nap. I have a thick coat of grey and blue acrylic paint on my fingernails. The warm water runs over my head first, then covers my body w…

Source: Getting Ready for SIMPATICO




a monograph of the works of 


(luna arte contemporaneo) 2014


The notion of connecting, of making connections; of the realization and extrapolation of identifiable forces in time and mind; of nature,in sand and stone; of finding the personal within the general, the specific in the universal, is central to the art of multi-disciplinarian

(print maker, sculptor, painter) Glen Rogers, who, from her base in Sinaloa, Mexico has produced a document rich in feel, color and soul that travels the viewer through mazes of hidden history of the female archetype, of the tribal imperative, of human presence on the

shared planet , marked with traces of that presence into a clearing rich with implications of the necessity and persistence of the creative instinct.

Spirit of Place

ART AND SACRED SITES : CONNECTING WITH SPIRIT OF PLACE ( luna arte contemporaneo) is a monograph, a meditation…

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a monograph of the works of 


(luna arte contemporaneo) 2014




The notion of connecting, of making connections; of the realization and extrapolation of identifiable forces in time and mind; of nature,in sand and stone; of finding the personal within the general, the specific in the universal, is central to the art of multi-disciplinarian

(print maker, sculptor, painter) Glen Rogers, who, from her base in Sinaloa, Mexico has produced a document rich in feel, color and soul that travels the viewer through mazes of hidden history of the female archetype, of the tribal imperative, of human presence on the

shared planet , marked with traces of that presence into a clearing rich with implications of the necessity and persistence of the creative instinct.


Spirit of Place


ART AND SACRED SITES : CONNECTING WITH SPIRIT OF PLACE ( luna arte contemporaneo) is a monograph, a meditation; a monumental work mapping Rogers’ insights and instinctive recognition of her place, her role, as witness and practitioner of divination available to all who look both at surface and allow, by means of that surface as portal of entry to intuitive awareness through direct observation of those surfaces. The artifacts available on the planet are myriad and rich; from Crete to the streets of San Jose, from the caves of Laucaux to the graffito of North Queensland and Uluru in Australia, and whether these artifacts , these presences, are made available in-situ, through the vehicle of monographs or on designer tableware, their impact and prescience remains and transcends the carrier vessel. A truth is a truth no matter the media employed to tell the tale.


These marks are voices.

Her walls speak in metal and paper through a process that extrapolates the ancient scrawls, respecting their symbolic potency and purpose, into new magic; unique, rich and good as part of a lineage of the female, the human, the keeper of tradition and form, even as the context of that form changes and has changed.


The circle remains the same.


Suggesting wholeness.




A beginning and an end.

A starting point …a destination.

The walls speak.




“For many years, I’ve taken my inspiration from archetypal symbols and sacred sites around the world, continually drawing from a universal visual language. I’ve followed in the footsteps of these early cultures by drawing from nature’s purest forms, such as the spiral, the circle and the crescent, whose cyclical shapes suggest renewal and regeneration. I am honored to have had the opportunity to walk these ancient lands imbued with the spirit of our ancestors. I feel that these same symbols, whether inscribed on ancient stones or painted on my 21st Century canvas, can connect us as humans, connect us to nature and give hope and inspiration to future generations. As I begin a work of art inspired by this imagery, scratching the surface of the plate or layering colors of paint, I feel connected to those who have come before me.”




In circles and scrawls, the spells and impulses are immediately recognizable as distinctly human and universal.

 Impulses important enough to warrant a mark.





The power of place informs Rogers’ work. The sheer mass, distance and space of her sites is exhausting to consider, yet she has sought out guides to the spirit who shared freely, as part of their own practice, the inner workings of mythologies and beliefs associated with the caves, runes, sculptures and markings in coherent language that immediately informed her own interpretations of these traces.

The female archetype, not surprisingly, is an essential element of her investigations and output. That archetype, thousands of years the predecessor of the patriarchal hierarchy, is and remains a presence in her work from the beginning. These images emerged slowly from her nude portraits of women in a time when feminist academic thought condemned such activity as exploitative and was reduced (or expanded) by Rogers to the simplest representations of the feminine: the circle, vulva, serpent, sun, shell, moon, spiral that embody all through gesture and intention like the Japanese ENSO which includes all experience, existence and desire within the circle. A mark so complete that there is nothing outside  that circle as there is no creation or humankind outside of or without entry through the vulva; the sacred and divine.

The marks that move her are of a simplicity that transcend the idea of the feminine and the feminine role outside of the socio-political and cultural order, impositions which are enforced with varying degrees of severity globally, which is why these symbols, I think, are so eagerly embraced by those who encounter them and are inspired if not liberated by them by the potential of their application.


What indicates the creative impulse?

The necessity of expression, of the awe, wonder and reverence of the life experience and the connection to something spiritual that makes sense of it all is probably the driving force of her work as well as the source of the art and marks that inspire her.

The intention to link and bridge across time ethnicity and culture, their practices and principles, is entirely admirable and is successfully realized more times than not in her book, in the presentation of illustrative passages of prose, of informative quotes and explanations make clear the proposition that the mystery of existence might be contained in a universal visual shorthand balanced by a magic and generosity of mind buoyed by trust in a continuity that where she lands is exactly right.

She calls upon a spiritual center available to all, often overlooked and muddied by the obscuring of cultural, even philosophical constructs hell-bent on erosion, on exerting artificial materialism and self-importance that suffocates, over-stimulates, deludes and ultimately kills the procreative impulse that Rogers relies upon and celebrates in ART AND SACRED SITES.

Her circles invite a meal for the senses in a sun settled in gold, red and orange, something that soothes the soul. She becomes a vessel carrying news of a nourishment of wealth of spiritual resources rich with potential accessible to all of us.

We revisit through her work platforms where we have always been, poised for re-invention and continuance, via a re-connection to the places, spaces and symbols which ultimately allow a re-connection to our selves.

The book, through its brilliantly colored or subtle earth toned pages are evocative of the power of the markings and symbols, both original and extrapolated, onto the media of the 21st Century allowing Rogers to present where she has been, what she has seen and what she has done with these sightings with great authority, power and humility communicated through time and generations telling a truth both irresistible and undeniable:

Now is always now.











Carl Heyward

is an artist and writer living in San Francisco






lemme present this dilemma:




one who appears like a brown  chalupa nightmare who invites dialog, exchange even consolidation among the races the generations the classes the sexes the senses be taken at face/FATE value? This  harpie/ brujo/ shaman in wrestler’s El Santero mask and skin-tight mariachi garb tattooed to a fare-thee-well intoning operatic baritone incantations in feathered headdress or acid-trip sombrero best kept at arms-length defies the branding as an exotic, an eccentric, a novelty by means of politically sound compassionate reasoning, the humor of logic despoiled the of-the-minute sensibility full of wisdom and the skewed normality that passes for the status quo ?






The subject is the border of mind and heart; of boundaries that separate the land and the men and women and thought of it and in it and ring a cash register or pull a trigger or lock a cell door; metal and mental. A western sensibility an American on-going crime.



A meal not easily digested, attractive all the same.

Undeniable existence…palate / pallet /palette  enough for you?









Gómez-Peña continues “to develop multi-centric narratives and performative poetics from a border perspective,” creating what critics have termed at different times “Chicano cyber-punk performances” and “ethno-techno art.” During these performances cultural borders move to the center while the alleged mainstream is pushed to the margins and treated as exotic and unfamiliar, placing the audience members in the position of “foreigners” or “minorities in his performance country.


Gómez-Peña has spent many years developing his unique solo style, “a combination of embodied poetry, performance-activism and theatricalizations of postcolonial theory.” In his ten books, as in his live performances, digital art, videos and photo-performances, he pushes the boundaries still further, exploring what’s left for artists to do in a repressive global culture of censorship, paranoid nationalism and what he terms “the mainstream bizarre.” Gómez-Peña examines where this leaves the critical practice of artists who aim to make tactical, performative interventions into our notions of race, culture and sexuality.

(Stephanie Okuda, Theater & Performance Studies, Stanford University)





from a text by Chloe Gurin- Sands/ University of Michigan:   BORDER THEORY 


Guillermo Gomez-Peña speaks often and poignantly about what borders mean to him, how he has personally experienced them, and how they have shaped the culture that surrounds us all.  In an excerpt from “Warrior for Gringostroika,” entitled “The Border Is…A Manifesto,” he elaborates on what a border means to him specifically, and how it can have many different interpretations, definitions, and applications.  With our discussions from class, and areas we have focused on in our particular archive, this manifesto has many answers to questions that Peña leaves open-ended and ambiguous in other pieces and performance art presentations.  He claims border culture is a “polysemantic term” that has many different meanings.  These include: “a transcultural friendship and collaboration among races, sexes, and generations,” “a way to analyze critically all that lies on the current tables of debates,” and also “it means hybrid art forms for new contents-in-gestation.”  With these descriptions, along with many others given throughout this excerpt, it is apparent that Peña recognizes the borders that exist in everyday life, and how multifaceted they truly are, while raising awareness about how to break these borders down, and discuss the intricacies of “border culture.”




In an excerpt from “New World Border” which we read in class, he discusses how he would ideally want the bordered world to disintegrate and become borderless and more mixed on many levels.  His conceptual map of the New World Border is “a great trans- and intercontinental border zone, a place in which no centers remain.  It’s all margins meaning there are no “others,” or better said, the only true “others” are those who resist fusion, mestizaje, and cross-cultural dialogue.”  This quote is particularly interesting because he is voicing his opinion about separations, and judgments made based on borders in society.  Peña would prefer a world where there are no “others” who are left out of categories or cultures because they don’t fit the specific criteria or beliefs.  He instead, wants there to be a free mixture of cultures, and a feeling of togetherness and inclusion, where only those who are negative towards the blend are left out because of their close-mindedness.  He also makes an interesting comment that relates to the physical map of North America.  He “opposes the outdated fragmentation of the standard map of America with the conceptual map of Arte-America – a continent made of people, art, and ideas, not countries.”  This point is the heart of his philosophy about a borderless society.  Peña is pushing for the world to move away from rigid borders that separate countries, such as the United States and America, and instead look at what creates the continent as a whole.  Look instead at the contents it contains, and the wealth of people, art, and ideas that make it unique, mixed, beautiful, interesting, and borderless.


In another art endeavor, Gomez-Peña teamed up with Marco Vinicio to create the publication, “The Broken Line/La Linea Quebrada.”  This was a magazine distributed in the United States and Mexico that addressed many issues relating to the border, and the concept of tearing down the rigidity of the division between the two countries.  The goal of the magazine was to “find new and surprising ways to distribute border art with a minimum of resources, and from an independent perspective.”  It was a bilingual and experimental magazine that was distributed heavily along the San Diego/Tijuana border.  Peña described the process in terms of being written from an intellectual perspective, because he thought that at that given time in the mid 1980’s, they alone had the right to portray the border in an honest and innovative light.  The magazine’s goal was to aid in positively changing the relationship between Mexico City and the state of California by changing the views and opinions of the relationships between Mexicans and Chicanos. Image


Borders are common and plentiful in Guillermo Gomez-Peña’s works.  He references them in his performance art pieces, his writings, and through his photography.  Tearing down these borders are important, and relevant to this artist who has spent much of his life trying to reconcile being fragmented, segmented, and discriminated against because of his different identifications and pushing the boundaries of borders in an attempt to remove them and tear them down.  His pieces attempt to raise awareness about these borders and show the world that there is an alternative to such close-minded tactics of creating border on top of border to separate our daily lives in so many ways, no matter how subtle they may be.



SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION : language  image lab











































The whispers too, they intimate

Radical Performance Pedagogy

By Guillermo Gómez-PeñaFebruary 12, 2013

(with Saul Garcia Lopez, Emma Tramposch, Dani d’Emilia, and Erica Mott)


Image: Nayla Altamirano. CASA, 2010 (still); performance, St Augustin, Oaxaca. Courtesy of La Pocha Nostra. Photo: Antonio Turok.

What follows is a roundtable conversation between La Pocha Nostra founder Guillermo Gómez-Peña, La Pocha Nostra’s producer Emma Tramposch, and La Pocha Nostra members Saul Garcia Lopez, Erica Mott, and Dani d’Emilia. La Pocha Nostra (also known simply as “Pocha”) defines itself as “a center and forum for a loose network of rebel artists from various disciplines, generations, gender persuasions and ethnic backgrounds,” whosecommon denominator is the “desire to challenge, cross, and erase dangerous borders between art and politics, practice and theory, artist and spectator, mentor and apprentice, body and cultural nightmares.1 The troupe comprises four to six core artists and scholars, as well as additional performance artists, activists, curators, musicians, filmmakers, and designers working part-time on Pocha projects. 

The roundtable occurred at the end of La Pocha International Summer School, an annual intensive pedagogical workshop, which took place in 2012 at the Taller Espacio Alternativo in Oaxaca. The Summer School employs what Pocha defines as a radical performance pedagogy, which “challenges specialized knowledge by creating temporary utopian spaces where interdisciplinary dialogue and artistic imagination can flourish. These utopian spaces are framed by, but not contained within, a pentagon shape of radical ideas and actions whose vertices are community, education, activist politics, new technologies, and experimental aesthetics.”

The Pocha members d’Emilia, Garcia Lopez, and Mott arrived in Oaxaca after performing at the Conarte Festival in Monterrey, Mexico.2 In Monterrey, considered a high-risk zone by the U.S. State Department, the performers witnessed public places usurped by the cartel wars and experienced exceptionally participative audiences that were outraged by the routine of catastrophic violence. So this conversation, which focuses on overcoming the polarities that emerge while undertaking their pedagogy and the workshop’s potential for reinvention, also reflects a context in which organized crime has unprecedented control over governments and violence is rampant in Mexico; political instability and unrest are reaching new levels in many nations; and the global economy—including the art economy—continues to spiral downward. All of these realities were very present throughout the Summer School session.


On Packing the Chevy as Praxis

Oaxaca is a country within a country—a planet within a complex, loud, and potent solar system.— Bruno Varela, Oaxacan performance artist

Guillermo Gómez-Peña: In our political ethos of building transnational communities of rebel artists, we always strive to have twelve “nationals” participating, with some under full scholarship, and twelve “internationals” from the so-called First World, who pay a fairly decent tuition.

Emma Tramposch: But this year, it was quite different, both in number and ethnic composition.

GGP: Very true. We had twenty-six people alongside a bunch of locals who crashed [the session] on various days. Normally, the internationals come from countries with robust art economies, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, the United States, and Canada. But this year it was very different. Due to the sinking global economy, the internationals came from countries like Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Spain—which is now in serious economical trouble—and other struggling economies. It was epic, which speaks for the need for our pedagogy in times of acute crisis.

Dani d’Emilia: It’s so interesting that so many participants were going through particularly intense moments in their personal, political, and artistic lives.

ET: We had even accepted a Nigerian artist and a Tongan artist, but they were unable to get visas from the Mexican embassy of their respective countries. Does Mexico even have embassies there? When they tried to obtain them through a third-party European country, they got stuck in immigration control. Sometimes the borders between developing countries are more formidable than those between First and Third World countries.

GGP: We need to create our own more utopian and inclusive geo-political map, even if it only exists on planet Poetry.

ET: And most of the Mexican participants could only complete their tuition or fully cover the fee this year in tequio—in exchange for favors.3

GGP: It was pedagogy in exchange for food, cleaning, documentation, preparation of props, chauffeuring, late-night party coordination, et cetera. We gladly bit the silver bullet.4

Erica Mott: This may be what the arts programs of the future will look like, as more artists move towards models of resource sharing and ethical exchange in order to make exciting work under adverse funding conditions.

DDE: A model not only for the arts but also for the everyday sphere of life.

GGP: Unfortunately, our landlords and doctors don’t seem to agree with this model.


Gerardo Juarez. Galloping Shaman (still); Juarez welcoming the audience at La Calera, Oaxaca. Courtesy of La Pocha Nostra. Photo: Tania Bohorquez.

On the Indigenous/International Axis

ET: The presence of indigenous artists was still a crucial anchoring factor in the workshop—a Pocha trademark that is becoming more pressing than ever.

GGP: Yes. Gerardo Juarez, the next mayordomo of Iztacalco; Lukas Avendaño, a two-spirited Mixteco performer and activist who is now in the process of becoming a Pocha member; and Tania Bohórquez, a young Oaxacan photographer who utilizes her nude body as subject matter—[they] were unquestionably some of the strongest performers present. Their body intelligence and performance sophistication humbled the most seasoned of international participants.

ET: Despite the lack of formal training, the Latin Americans and especially the indigenous performance artists tended to be more open in their body language. Why is that?

Saul Garcia Lopez: The indigenous artists were constantly offering their bodies en forma de tributo for the enhancement of the pedagogical ritual of the workshop. They became pedagogical instigators.

EM: I think we risk sounding a little essentialist here. Perhaps the joy that comes from consistently crossing borders with the pedagogy is to learn from our participants, who reveal unexpected and exciting ways in which culture, ethnicity, and worldviews can charge and shape the body as a vehicle or tool for a radical performance practice.


La Pocha Nostra. Participants from El Cuerpo Diferente stage impromptu tableux vivants in X-Teresa Arte Alternativo, Mexico City, November 2012. Photo: Norma Patiño.

DDE: You’re right, Erica, there’s a real danger in excessively romanticizing it all, but there is something that undeniably connects Pocha with Latin American and other colonized bodies. The images we create often emerge out of a purposeful clash between various influences, aesthetics, cultures, iconographies, attitudes, et cetera. For example, there isn’t a “pure” Brazilian body. [Brazilians] are more like strange combinations of ingredients that were thrown together in the melting pot of history. This hybrid re-assemblage became an eloquent state of being.

GGP: I don’t see any problem in stating that the indigenous body, like the Brazilian body, is more awake, assertive, and politicized than, say, the Finnish body. (Laughter)

ET: Acknowledging and addressing the cultural specificities of our participants is part of the pedagogy.

GGP: This is one of the main differences between a Pocha workshop and, say, an Anne Bogard or Eugenio Barba workshop. We insist on facilitating exercises that constantly respond to the challenges of the site and the specificities of the spaces, communities, and individuals we are working with. It’s border pedagogy, meaning it operates in a permanent state of reinvention.

DDE: For sure. In each context, participants bring with them such different backgrounds, struggles, and desires. The intimate borders people choose to cross or the aesthetic and political slant they imprint to the work becomes the crux of our time together. It’s interesting for us to notice that our varied pool of exercises shapes up differently each year in order to dance along with the needs of each group and also to respond to what is happening just outside the door of our workshop space or across a more distant yet equally present border.


Summit of Nalgas, 2012 (still); performance intervention, La Calera, Oaxaca, part of the La Pocha International Summer School, Oaxaca. Courtesy of La Pocha Nostra. Photo: Tania Bohorquez.

On the Need to Reinvent our Pedagogy In Situ

GGP: Our pedagogy was quite different this year, que no? With four instructors—two trans-Mexicans, a de-territorialized Brazilian and a U.S. Viking—we engaged in a multilevel, poly-linguistic type of pedagogy in which we were constantly shifting and sampling roles, languages, and leadership and mixing exercises in surprising new ways.

SGL: At one point, it felt like we were actively configuring brand new strategies for our radical pedagogy. It was,
apparent that sometimes we collapsed vertical, hierarchical

SGL (cont.): models of teaching into what felt like a pedagogical jam session. We needed to be more precise than ever in our instructions in order not to confuse the students.

EM: And to not confuse ourselves. Incorporating polyphonic and jamming tactics into our instruction forced us to be present, mindful, and playfully interactive with each other. It demanded that we apply the same decentralized structure to our instruction that we encourage in the general workshop and insured all instructional voices were heard, not just the most boisterous, like Guillermo’s.

GGP: Ach! I am working on my logocentrism [sic]. I am learning to step back and cede more space to you all. It’s a big learning challenge for me.

DDE: And we are learning not to overwhelm you and the participants with all our pedagogical changes and samplings of new exercises, cabrón! As our pedagogy develops in this new formation, we are trying to strike the balance between pursuing the more familiar and effective Pocha strategies alongside experimenting with new material. We are getting so much better at it. 

On the Politics of Translation and the New Importance of Spoken Work in our Pedagogy

I feel Mexican but not Mexican, just as if I was suddenly inserted in my mother culture, struggling to articulate proper Spanish, and all wrapped in plastic film and sunglasses.—Saul Garcia Lopez

GGP: We also learned a lot about simultaneous translation, que no? We learned that when pedagogical instructions are given in three languages, the number one rule of a translation in situ is that it has to be shorter than the actual command.

SGL: True. We need to avoid redundancy at any cost. No translation was sometimes okay because it forced the students to be more vigilant about sparking their performance intelligence.

DDE: At the same time, this process also made us notice which instructions or observations needed to be carefully translated in order to be understood by all. We often use simple exercises, but by subverting and bastardizing them in various ways, we created conceptual shifts and reached complexities beyond performance training. Language is a very important ally in this process.


La Pocha Nostra. Participants from El Cuerpo Diferente stage impromptu tableux vivants in X-Teresa Arte Alternativo, Mexico City, November 2012. Photo: Norma Patiño.

GGP: I feel that good performance pedagogy is all about “language-ing.” This time, we had a bunch of great writers such as Mario Bellatin, Gabriela Leon, and Lucero Luevano who also happen to be performance artists. Besides body-based art practice, they were interested in language performance, and through their desire to jumpstart every session with poetic or performed texts, we rediscovered the importance of spoken word in the pedagogy.

EM: How the poetics of language could appeal to and ignite the performing body was immediately apparent; it became a vital setting-of-the-stage for our creative sessions. The shared poems were embodied texts; some were danced, others became calls and responses, and others were fantastical languages that created new, mytho-logoscapes that would carry us into the following session.

SGL: We realized we needed to keep inventing and adapting exercises to incorporate text in a non-parliamentary fashion, avoiding illustrative dialogue in a theatrical sense as much as possible.

GGP: We had to openly experiment with text as environment, meta-fiction, and prop—with text embodied in the live image and directly written, or drawn, rather, on the skin. We had to think of the body as a canvas, as a mural wall or an open book. Our quintessential Pocha exercise of the illustrated body reached a new dimension.


Saul Velarde and Logan Phillips. Pocha Rainbow Warriors, 2010 (still); performance, The Museo del Ferrocarril, Oaxaca. Courtesy of La Pocha Nostra. Photo: Berenice Guraib.

On the Increasing Importance of Public Interventions

ET: We also placed more emphasis on public interventions in autonomous zones, in places struggling with the government, such as the Antiguo Museo del Ferrocarril or in buildings with a deep political and labor history, such as La Calera.5

GGP: At one point, the actual workshop site had evolved into a headquarters for us to plot our public interventions that renegotiated the meaning of many highly charged buildings and public spaces. It was the most activist Summer School since the days of the teachers insurrection in Oaxaca.

SGL: The desire of the group to test the pedagogy in public places stressed the political implications of the exercises; it enhanced the performance actions and valor of the students. These interventions also emphasized the transformational process of individual and group aesthetic choices and the relationship of the human body to the architecture—the actual space—or the public.

GGP: It was mind blowing. To our surprise, the use of nude bodies in politically charged buildings and in autonomous zones was always welcome and even celebrated by local working-class communities with very little experience of performance art.

DDE: This desire to use performance to intervene and exchange with the local community also triggered some very interesting conversations within the group, especially due to the various sociopolitical backgrounds of the participants. At one point, in discussing the possibility of making work in public spaces of Oaxaca, a crucial point came up: performance actions have very different impact and consequences in different cultural and social contexts. Clashes with local authorities can also produce very different consequences for the individuals involved, simply because of their nationality.

GGP: Remember the day the North Americans were so exalted by performance that they wanted to suddenly go into the downtown streets in costume and stage impromptu radical interventions? We had to politely persuade them that it is one thing for a blond foreigner to go wild in public in Oaxaca, and it is another thing entirely when it comes to a brown national. Their treatment in jail, if arrested, would be dramatically different. They understood. It’s part of the political learning process.

EM: This conversation regarding public intervention and its impact on the local community, as well as on different members of the group, was a powerful moment for us as instructors to clarify what our goals should be with public interventions during a Summer School. It was also a charged moment of reflection on the freedom and openness cultivated within the trans-border community that developed over the course of the workshop in comparison to the rigidity and dangers outside—and right next door to—the workshop environment. When and how do we wish to strategically press, collide with, and/or pierce that border.

On How to Deal Pedagogically with Sensitive Issues

GGP: Open and unanswered questions: In our sensitive dialogues behind closed doors, we talked about the need to chronicle the most challenging moments we’ve experienced during workshops, those moments that have shaken us as pedagogues and have tested our abilities, the Pocha pedagogy, and the temporal community of rebel artists we are working with.

EM: It’s often the challenges that enrich a sense of solidarity with other radical pedagogues.

GGP: Then let’s remember some of the challenges posed to us by the participants.

SGL: I remember a particular conversation when Pocha alumni—people like the Mexican Nayla Altamirano and the New Yorker Lindsey Drury—expressed their desire to have advanced-level workshops. We have local and international participants who have taken the course multiple times. Some of them have expressed the urgent need for this format. What new strategies can we develop that also encompasses these participants?

EM: This poses a formidable challenge to us and to the pedagogy. What does it means to be advanced in a system aimed at decentralization and different, complex modes of equality?

GGP: If we divide the advanced students from the beginners, we would be creating hierarchies in the ethos of Pocha. Is this good or bad? I don’t know.

ET: We also faced [another] major problem one day, remember? The growing presence of curious visitors from the local arts community, which, while a very common occurrence in Oaxaca, was strongly contested by a few workshop members—mostly North Americans—who felt their presence was disruptive and that we needed to develop a strict protocol for guests. I can see both sides, really.

GGP: How can we strike a balance between remaining open and community-minded yet also protect the close temporary environment created within the workshop setting? We still don’t have an answer for this one.

DDE: Not a full answer, but we did already discover some strategies, such as ensuring that guests were announced and that they participated in some form of exchange during or after their visit. I remember we also discussed how differently participants felt about the nuances of process versus finished work and what phases should be open to the public. Performance is always in process, but it’s so different if you are a visual or conceptual artist, for example.

On New and Perplexing Political Questions

GGP: Due to the acute global crisis of the moment, we were also faced with new political dimensions. I quote from my diary:

“Why is it that no performance artist nowadays has an alliance with their respective nation-states? Is it that performance art is anti-essentialist by nature? In a time in which Mexico is controlled by organized crime, why do we still have more artistic freedom in Oaxaca than, say, in San Francisco, and [why can we] produce more hard-core images there than in London or Berlin? Is the omnipresent danger in Mexico more conducive to openness and willingness to jump into the abyss?”

EM: More questions: How does performance risk-taking differ and evolve when one’s country of residence demands extreme risk-taking in daily activity? How do we as performance artists address, fracture, and re-view or re-envision this risk? In extreme times, it may be the slippery and sometimes trickster identity of the performance artist that can twist, deform, and subvert such critical subject matter.

SGL: As a workshop participant said in Monterrey, “As an artist, what else I can do with my body when we encounter over-the-top images of real cuerpos desmembrados[dismembered bodies] as part of our everyday entertainment?” I still remember a taxi driver in Monterrey airport saying, “Your suitcase is very heavy, cabrón.” As a joke I said, “I have a body inside.” The taxi driver laughed and said, “Con cabeza o sin cabeza? [With or without the head?]” He was referring to the hundreds of beheaded bodies found in connection to the drug-cartel crime in the area. After hearing his answer, I was unsure whether to laugh or not.

GGP: Increasingly, we are having a harder time justifying why we should keep our headquarters in San Francisco when the troupe is spread throughout five different countries and the cultural energy has moved south of the border in the past decade. Though we are still committed to servicing outsider and underserved communities in the United States, we are now constructing a studio in Mexico City to incubate all our Latin American projects and use it as Pocha South Central.

ET: Not to mention the fact that the new Pocha members are challenging our pedagogy and pushing us to expand it and politicize it even more.

GGP: The Occupy movement, the indignados, the Arab Spring, Athens on fire, the movement against violence in Mexico—all these citizen initiatives are challenging our notions of what is performance and what is the new relationship between performance, our bodies, and activism. In many ways this is the core question posed by our new performance, The Insurrected Body, which recently premiered in Austria. We feel excited and a bit scared. The rug has been pulled from under our feet and no matter where we look—north, south, east, or west—we only find flames.

SGL: And then, there is here. Now is the time to surf the apocalyptic shifting of power. Somewhere in this turmoil there is a territory that is home to Pocha. Shall I call it a trans-apocalyptic space?


1. All quotes in the introduction are from La Pocha Nostra’s manifesto:http://visitor.benchmarkemail.com/c/v?e=1CEEFC&c=EDCB&l=49A482B&email=ic3b5%2FTKPzv%2F9wYgElm1zbV4yth9vR43xIq103q5KuP2u%2F1TV4legA%3D%3D&relid=4C4AEFA1

2. This was the first time no founding members of the troupe were present for the festival.

3.  In Oaxaca, tequio is an organized form of collective work or trade that produces an alternative economy.

4. La Pocha Nostra and La Perrera, their partner in Oaxaca, were able to secure the required funding with the support of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC), as well as the in-kind services of many local producers and curators.

5. A former chalk factory, La Calera was transformed into a utopian, self-sustaining art space through the vision of the artist Alejandro Santiago.






compliled for

SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION: language / image lab 




a san francisco based writer and artist


this SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION: language/image lab article undergoes further dissemination beginning April 25th, 2014 under the auspices of  Carol Shapiro’s   “webassoauteurs” project:

http://www.webasso-auteurs.net/ouvertures/    “to be the boundary”























July 27-August 2016
workshops, collaborative and private studio practice, organic exhibition

GAP : (global art project)



Here is a composite of what GAP is about:

Originally Carl Heyward (San Francisco, California USA) and Lorna Crane (New South Wales, Australia) began a friendship and correspondence via Heyward’s KNEE(jerk) Fragmentation (mail art ) PROJECT in 2011 which consists of a one-for-one exchange of post card sized art works made exclusively for the project that has attracted over 500 artist- participants and produced over 3,000 individual art works. The idea of fragmentation is central to his aesthetic mission in that the pieces of a culture, the debris, the archaeological products of waste and discard give evidence of culturally assigned value and worth; of conscious and sublimated preoccupations of contemporary culture and that…

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