The LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) and feminist movements that emerged in the 1970s in Mexico and among Chicanxs in the United States faced many formidable challenges. Not least of these was how to transform a cultural politics of national/ethnic identity that rested discursively on patriarchal constructs of heterosexism and machismo, narrowly defined womanhood, and rigid binaries of gender and sexuality.
Activist art proved to be one of the movements’ most effective tools for producing counterhegemonic discourses about gender and sexuality. Since 1987, an annual art exhibition has been mounted at the Museo del Chopo in Mexico City, as part of their LGBTQ pride celebration known originally as the Semana Cultural Gay. In the assessment of the late Carlos Monsiváis, these cultural mobilizations “constituted for civil society critical proof of the way in which alternative spaces have contributed to the diversity and the democratization of Mexican life.” In addition to the significance of the social space created by these exhibitions, the hundreds of widely viewed images were important in and of themselves in producing new visual discourses about the possibilities of making a home and a future in which one could be simultaneously queer and Mexican.
1987 was also a pivotal year for queer Chicanxs, marked by the publication of Gloria Anzaldúa’s groundbreaking Borderlands/La Frontera that gave us an intersectional analysis of the “borders” between cultures, genders, and sexualities. It was against her own Chicano community’s sexism and homophobia that she asserted her determination “to stand and claim my space.” In her “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” she declared, “I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent’s tongue—my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, my poet’s voice.” In doing so she helped opened spaces for other queer Chicanxs. Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About was published in 1991, and in 1995 Galería de la Raza hosted Mi corazón me dió un salto: A Queer Raza Exhibition. Now the new millennium has witnessed the emergence of fierce UndocuQueer artists.
With this exhibition, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Semana Cultural Gay (now Festival de Diversidad Sexual) in Mexico City and the publication of Borderlands/La Frontera by paying tribute to the many brave artists on both sides of the border who continue to engage the question of what it means to be queerly tehuantin, cuir us. We have included the work of some of our pioneering elders, as well as pieces by a new generation of queer artists. May their work guide us toward what José Esteban Muñoz called a “forward-dawning futurity.”
Featuring works by: Yolanda Andrade, Felix D'Eon, Naomi Rincón Gallardo, Ester Hernández, Rurru Mipanochia, Yosimar Reyes, Gabriel García Román, Joey Terrill, Nahum B. Zenil, and Taller Documentación Visual.
Check out Terremoto's blog post on the show!
Read our review on Latinx Space!
Opening Reception: Friday, August 11, 2017
Doors Open at 6:30 pm | Brief Program at 8pm
This exhibition is funded by: Horizons Foundation and The San Francisco State University Office of Research and Sponsored Program.