Shotgun Review on Corpo/Ilicito: The Post Human Society 6.9

La Pocha Nostra has been traveling the world, using performance as their primary method of conveying the current political, societal, and cultural nuances of the Unites States and its relationship with the rest of the world. In Corpo/Ilicito, statuesque performers, some on platforms and some on the same level as the audience, interact with viewers. Their unapologetic narratives address the displacement and marginalization that occur in this globalized world, with special attention paid to the illicit and corruptible body. From gas-masked figures who request passports from visitors to machine gun-wielding women in burkas, performers effectively break the fourth and fifth walls as they engage viewers in the visual and experiential landscape. Indeed, with Guerillmo Gómez-Peña at the helm, the conscientious and methodical approach to viewer engagement not only breaks but shatters the wall between audience and performers.

When patrons of Corpo/Ilicito participate in becoming a part of an act, the self and the Other become intertwined in the performance space. As the subjects broke through the imaginary walls, patrons took this engagement even further by taking on the role of documentarian. Participating in and recording that participation as a part of the show helped both to create and perpetuate the performance. Additionally, creating documentation for future viewers ensured an ongoing conversation about the performance, as the recorded performance will continue to inspire inquiry with time. Whether recorded, witnessed, or participated in, Corpo/Ilicito demands the viewer’s intellectual development and construction, deconstruction, and reconciliation of events. The viewer engages on levels that cannot be felt or experienced two-dimensionally.

This intersection of perception and cognitive processing in Corpo/Ilicito and the larger exhibition It’s All a Blur, which includes work by Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra, encourages viewers to intellectually, perceptually, and physically engage with the taboo and the foreign, all within the space of the performance.

Corpo/Ilicito: The Post Human Society 6.9, 2011; premier performance in It’s All A Blur exhibition, January 15, 2011. Courtesy of the Artist and SOMArts, San Francisco. Photo: Dorothy Santos.

Originally published to Art Practical for Shotgun Reviews January 2011

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Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina-American writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She serves as one of the editors-in-chief for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and SF MOMA's Open Space. She has lectured at the De Young museum, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016). She is currently a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts fellow researching the concept of citizenship. She also serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism and board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center.

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