Galeria de la Raza
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MARIA: Politics. Sex. Death. Men.
6/6/2008 - 7/4/2008
Maria: Politics. Sex. Death. Men. curated by Leonardo Herrera, explores the defense mechanisms and survival instincts of young Latino gay men through a psychedelic showcase of Magical Realism, sex and gay iconography. Through candid photography, digital collage, costume, video installation and drawings, the artists delve into the assimilation of San Francisco's Gay community brought on by both outside forces such as politics and the media, as well as from within the gay community itself. Participating Artists include Keith Aguilar, Robert Guzman, Allan Herrera, Leonardo Herrera, Jody Jock, Jonathan Solo and Ernesto Sopprani.
  Galería Exhibitions Living Under The Trees <2008>
The Invisible Nation <2008>
Digital Mural Project: Victor Cartagena <2008>
DIGITAL MURAL PROJECT by Galeria's Youth Media Project <2008>
MARIA: Politics. Sex. Death. Men. <2008>
Narrating Identity, Dislocating Bodies <2008>
Digital Mural Project: Shizu Saldamando <2008>
FridaMania <2008>
On The Wall <2008>
Ana Teresa Fernandez: ECDISIS <2008>
Digital Mural Project: Papo Colo <2008>
Related Media for this Exhibition
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Curated By: Leonardo Herrera

MARIA is about how gay culture survives.

The last generation of gay men disappeared into a plague. For two decades, the survivors wondered how we could possibly hold on to a culture that nearly evaporated. Once again, we are faced with a tidal wave of change, yet this time we are prepared.

The last decade has seen a seismic shift in the gay community, especially in a Mecca like San Francisco, whose skyline and demographics are changing dramatically. As gay politicians allow the Castro to mutate into a glorified strip mall, as pharmaceutical companies and condom-free pornography sell the false promise of HIV as a "manageable" disease, as men buy this promise and trade the luxury of health for the luxury of an unchecked libido, the modern homosexual is faced with responsibilities and traditions beyond himself.

Technology and increased visibility have made it possible to pass these down to future generations with an unprecedented ease. Our ancestors were forced to communicate through codes and glances, in the darkness of a closet. Now, we are able to use the same codes out of efficiency and not fear, and to teach them to our youngest. While we might not be able to draw the same personal empowerment from coming out as we did only ten years ago, we can now experience the power of history.

The artists of this exhibit are of Latino descent. This is irrelevant. Gay culture transcends race, place and class. So much of our Latino heritage has had to be sacrificed in the name of our "lifestyle" anyway. The homophobia of Latino culture is so deeply intertwined with the Catholicism at its roots, that at one point, every gay Latino man has had to sacrifice a piece of his upbringing, be it a tradition, a hometown or a family. This exhibit is about the tender distance in which we did so, in the way we experience the imagery and songs of our past through the prism of gay culture, through our own textiles and celebrations.

Yet, in spite of this separation, gay and Hispanic cultures are incredibly similar in the way that immigration, polarizing politics and unchecked consumerism have left both with a deep loss of cultural identity. At the hands of corporations & voters, these communities have been transformed more in the last 10 years than the last 100 years combined. It should not be surprising that both deal with these issues with the same kind of defense mechanisms.

This exhibit is one of those defense mechanisms. It is about the preservation of iconography and the honor of our martyrs, of the power of disclosure, of a confidence as deep as the oldest adolescent wound. It is about the unmistakable softness of every gay man you will ever meet.

We are not the sum of our political issues, pornographic images, diseases & hedonism. We are a culture, flourishing and yet asphyxiating in a sheath of latex, dying and rising at every generation, always existing as Parade and Funeral Procession.