Jul 15, 2007

Artist Statement

Artist Statement

"Will we be able to speak when it matters most?"

Luiseño: Cronicas de Comunidad

Adios Gridley, CA
Chapter 1:
Nuevo Ideal, Huejuquilla, MX
Nueva York, Guadalajara

There is, on the on hand, the vision of a Central American man in the desert looking North, toward the green lights: his future. Sweat leaks from his arms and neck. He imagines crossing the border, the dream is in fast-forward: the work, the Church, the family, the racism, the confusion, the assimilation, the loss, the money, the lowriders, the white, the brown, the yellow, the success.

Years into this future, there is, on the other hand, his children, now looking South.

We are his children, his return, his venganza.

* * * * * * * * *

As the progeny of dreamers, we continue a mission, we pick up a legacy. We bear the responsibility to the dreams of our parents, the collective dream of a better life, that mythical land, perhaps of a Nuevo Aztlan.

Or, we can’t help but wonder, are we destined to become Nuevos Ricos?

* * * * * * * * * *

As children, we didn't get to many weddings, we stayed at home and listened to music, watched TV, ignored the future. The few weddings that we did go to were mostly close family--brothers, sisters, they were the best times. We love the extended family, the children always look smooth. Our friends don't really care.

Somewhere along the way, however, well beyond the Western phase of teenage ‘rebellion,’ we began to ask, "What are we doing here? Why are we here? We've got all this stuff, but at what cost?”

* * * * * * * * *

Our souls, fortunately or not, have been educated. We’re bilingual (especially if you count Espanglish). We read books in English that affect our lives. Corridos speak to us too. We are from El Campo, East San Jose, Mexican cities and towns in the USA. Our older brothers and sisters own homes in California and drive large cars. We reach out to our cousins down South, they enlighten us with stumbled conversation. We look at myspace and want iPhones; the slightly younger are excited by Harry Potter.

We notice that some Latinos—the happy box-checkers—just want to be around that monstrous, corporate-consumer culture we call “whiteness.” Other Latinos, however, do not want to enter that world: the rockeros, the skaters, the punks, and we can never forget the gang-bangers, who were once neighbors, and are now warriors against assimilation. Just like the O.G.’s before them, and the Pachucos before them.

Are we allowed to add a category? Forgive us, but the Latino Artist also falls into the latter category, the one with the gangsters, in solidarity in the battle against assimilation. Years later, we hope, there will be a corrido about the People of the Left, who just wanted to share, and who had to fight a war in order to share.

But what does this battle ‘against assimilation’ mean? And aren’t the Mexican skater-rockeros re-enacting a decidedly American creation of culture (albeit with, some would say, much better style)? Aren’t artists also sell-outs? How do we figure it all out? Where is our core?

Luiseño tries to get at the culture jam of Latino experience, attitudes, modes of existence/survival. Luiseño tries to grasp the effects of globalization; one trajectory will certainly lead us to more work within Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, the rest of Latino America—the world? Luiseño is community-based media creation: youth media, community documentation, community work. Luiseño's primary mode of exhibition is the internet: it means deciding what photos are family, friends or public. As artists, we try to explain that we are just as fragile as the cannery worker, the delivery boy. What can he/she be thinking? We have to ask because we think we can feel it.