“If Gender is a Kind of Doing”
Exhibition: April 9 - May 25, 2013.
Opening Reception: Friday, April 12 / 7:00:pm / Adms. $5
Exhibit curated by: Ella Diaz
Artists: Regina José Galindo, Deborah Roberts, Elizabeth “Oscar” Maynard, Rye Purvis, Laura Lucía Sanz, Lorraine García-Nakata, Ana Teresa Fernández.
At its core, this exhibit privileges formal achievement in visual art, showcasing expertise and training in visual fields; but it also asks “if gender is a kind of doing, an incessant activity performed in part, without one’s knowing and without one’s willing?” (Butler 2004, 35). Engaging Judith Butler’s question, the exhibit analyzes constructions of the female gender by including several compositions of the female form. From painting and drawing, to video and performance art, the works move viewers beyond formal values of art, and toward an understanding of the racial, patriarchal, and classed constructions of gender.
Artist and scholar Coco Fusco has explored intersections of art, the body, and gender
politics within the competing colonialisms of the U.S. and Latin America. In Corpus
Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas (2000), Fusco brings together analyses of
canonical and emerging Latina/o and Latin American performance artists to provide
a historical context and theoretical framework. But Fusco begins the anthology by
contemplating her title, Corpus Delecti. Originally, Fusco had intended the title to reflect the “illegitimately violent exercise of power over bodies” (2). She used a Latin Dictionary to find the term, “corpus delicti,” which means “the material substance, such as a body or a victim in murder, upon which a crime has been committed” (2). Inadvertently, Fusco used “corpus delecti,” a term that refers to “the body that derives or incarnates pleasure” (3). Her mistake was remarkable because it addressed the “tropicalist stereotype of the erotic Latin body propagated by touristic entertainment” (3). So often, the female persona and performances of femininity are attached to entertainment, whether or not one is on vacation in a far-off place. In-between the tension of the “corpus delicti” (power over bodies) and the “corpus delecti” (pleasure of bodies), this exhibit stages performances of gender by bodies that both perpetuate and transgress western traditions and stereotypes of the female form.
Furthermore, If gender is a kind of doing is an annual show for the Mission Cultural
Center for Latino Arts, and, historically, a Latina-only show. This fact complicates the
bodies that are on display because many of them represent the female form outside
racial definitions of the “Latina,” challenging notions of what is exotic and what is