Performing Mexicanidad: Vendidas y Cabareteras on the Transnational Stage

Performing Mexicanidad: Vendidas y Cabareteras on the Transnational Stage

Performing Mexicanidad: Vendidas y Cabareteras on the Transnational Stage

Performing Mexicanidad: Vendidas y Cabareteras on the Transnational Stage

Synopsis

Using interdisciplinary performance studies and cultural studies frameworks, Laura G. Gutiérrez examines the cultural representation of queer sexuality in the contemporary cultural production of Mexican female and Chicana performance and visual artists. In particular, she locates the analytical lenses of feminist theory and queer theory in a central position to interrogate Mexican female dissident sexualities in transnational public culture. This is the first book-length study to wed performance studies and queer theory in examining the performative/performance work of important contemporary Mexicana and Chicana cultural workers. It proposes that the creations of several important artists--Chicana visual artist Alma López; the Mexican political cabareteras Astrid Hadad, Jesusa Rodréguez, Liliana Felipe, and Regina Orozco; the Chicana performance artist Nao Bustamante; and the Mexican video artist Ximena Cuevas--unsettle heterosexual national culture. In doing so, they are not only challenging heterosexist and nationalist discourses head-on, but are also participating in the construction of a queer world-making project. Treating the notion of dis-comfort as a productive category in these projects advances feminist and queer theories by offering an insightful critical movement suggesting that queer worlds are simultaneously spaces of desire, fear, and hope. Gutiérrez demonstrates how arenas formerly closed to female performers are now providing both an artistic outlet and a powerful political tool that crosses not only geographic borders but social, sexual, political, and class boundaries as well, and deconstructs the relationships among media, hierarchies of power, and the cultures of privilege.

Excerpt

In the fall of 2003 Mexico City–based queer cabaret performance artist Astrid Hadad performed two successive shows—on two separate nights—as part of the Sabor a México (A Taste of Mexico) series during the 2003–2004 season of the University of Arizona’s UA Presents program. As one of the primary artists whose work I study in this book, her 2003 performances in Tucson, my recently adopted hometown, inevitably helped to enhance my ongoing research and thinking about her cultural production. But Hadad’s visit to southern Arizona and her performances during those two nights also illustrate a number of theoretical and critical points that I believe will help exemplify the link between a number of critical threads and categories of analysis that I explore throughout this book. These intricate connections, which I believe are still underexplored in current cultural criticism, are: Mexican female sexuality, the female body, performance and performativity, mexicanidad, nationalism and transnationalism, queer identity and cultural practices, and reception/spectatorship. In Performing Mexicanidad I exercise such a critical movement, which not only makes visible the interconnectedness of these matters but also scrutinizes them. For the moment, however, in these introductory pages, I turn to the anecdote, as I want to focus on a number of aspects that came to the forefront during those two nights in Tucson. In weaving the behind-the-scenes anecdote with my “rememory”—those memories that live in the present—of what transpired on the stage those two nights during that weekend in Tucson, I am also indirectly . . .

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