Sunday, 7 July 2013

Thorny Questions to and by Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Every time a journalist from a large paper or a commercial radio station interviews me, the conversation goes, more or less like this:

Journalist: "Is performance art something relatively new"?
Guillermo Gómez-Peña: "Every culture has a space allocated to the renewal of tradition and a space for contestation and deviant behavior. Those who occupy the latter are granted special freedoms.

Journalist: "Can you elaborate?"
GP: "In indigenous American cultures, it was the shaman, the coyote, the nanabush who had permission to cross the dangerous borders of dreams, gender, madness, and witchcraft. In Western culture this liminal space is occupied by the performance artist, the contemporary anti-hero and accepted provocateur. We know this place exists and we simply occupy it."

Journalist: "So what is the function of performance art? Does it have any?
GP: (Long pause) "Performance artists are a constant reminder to society of the possibilities of other artistic, political, sexual or spiritual behaviors, and this, I must say, is an extremely important function."

Journalist: "Why?"
GP: "It helps others to re-connect with the forbidden zones of their psyches and bodies and acknowledge the possibilities of their own freedoms. In this sense, performance art may be as useful as medicine, engineering, or law; and performance artists as necessary as nurses, schoolteachers, priests, or taxi drivers. Most of the time we ourselves are not even aware of these functions."

Journalist: "But what does performance art do for you?"
GP: "For me?(Long pause) It is a way to fight or talk back, to recapture my stolen civic self, and piece together my fragmented identity."

Journalist: "Do you think about these big ideas everyday, all day long.?"
GP: "Certainly not. Most of the time I'm just going about my everyday life; you know, writing, researching, getting excited by a new project or prop, paying bills, recuperating from the flu, waiting anxiously for a phone call to get invited to perform in a city where I have never been…"

Journalist: "I'm not being clear: what I want to know is what has performance art taught you.?"
GP: "Ah, you want a soundbite, right? OK. When I was younger, performance taught me how to talk back. Lately, it is teaching me to listen to others."

Source: Pocha Nostra (antes) - In Defense Of Performance Art By Guillermo Gómez-Peña