Multiple Journeys: the life and work of Guillermo Gómez-Peña to be shared in performative lecture at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Multiple Journeys: the life and work of Guillermo Gómez-Peña to be shared in performative lecture at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Published: 21/03/2023

A performance lecture by Guillermo Gómez-Peña with technical assistance from Balitrónica

Monday 3 April, 6pm

He’s the contemporary performance icon who has influenced a worldwide community of rebel artists. And in April, he’ll chronicle his life’s work in a special one-off performative lecture at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Artist, writer, activist, radical pedagogue and artistic director of the internationally acclaimed transdisciplinary arts troupe La Pocha Nostra, Guillermo Gómez-Peña is a performance art pioneer, whose work has contributed to debates on cultural, generational and gender diversity and border culture.

Multiple Journeys: The Life and Work of Gómez-Peña takes place on Monday 3 April, in RCS’s Stevenson Hall, with technical assistance from Balitrónica, a senior, core member of La Pocha Nostra.

Born in Mexico City, Gómez-Peña moved to the US in 1978, and since 1995, his three homes have been San Francisco, Mexico City and the ‘road’. A MacArthur Fellow, USA Artists Fellow, and a Bessie, Guggenheim, and American Book Award winner, his output includes 21 books while his artwork has been presented at more than one thousand venues across the world.

Close-up head shot of Guillermo Gomez-Pena holding a metal monocle to his eye
Zach Gross

Professor Laura Gonzalez, Athenaeum Research Fellow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, who is organising the event, said: “Guillermo is a pioneer. For thirty years he has been a trailblazer for so many of the discourses around institutions, race, identity, and methodology.

“He’s a hugely inspiring and influential artist, who is very close to many of the interests that the Royal Conservatoire stands for. There is generosity in his way of working, a sharing, and a desire to make community.

“What also aligns with RCS is that he has something that I believe the conservatoire has too – and that’s the ability to dream. I’ve heard him speak about artists imagining what we feel the world should be like because putting the idea in our heads is the first step towards realisation.

“Anybody that has any interest in how the arts change the world, whether as a viewer or as a maker, will be interested in what he has to say. His audiences are curious about something that is, like most performance art, slightly on the edge. The people who know, know, and for those that don’t, they should come and find out!”

By tracing his family life as well as his past 35 years in performance, visual and literary forms, in Multiple Journeys at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Gómez-Peña will discuss his work in the context of the larger evolution of the field, as well as to the main political and social events of the times.

For the past 15 years, he has been going through the process of cataloguing his extensive personal collection of original photographs, slides, videos, audio-art, books, and ephemera documenting his interdisciplinary arts practice.

It has unearthed historical materials that lend themselves perfectly to this form of artistic and educational presentation. In keeping with the hybrid spirit of his work, he has translated his archives into this one-hour performative lecture.

Professor Gonzalez added: “This isn’t conservative or traditional theatre, it’s pushing the boundaries and even the format that Guillermo is presenting at RCS is a performative lecture – so it’s a lecture that’s not a lecture. The accent is on performative – it is a performance. Balitrónica is a beautiful performer too and it’s incredible to have them both here at RCS.”

Balitrónica by Gómez-Peña

Multiple Journeys is supported by the RCS Athenaeum Awards – open to RCS staff to help seed or fully fund projects, collaborations or research – and in partnership with Glasgow’s internationally renowned Buzzcut festival at Tramway, a platform for radical performance practices.

Guillermo and Balitrónica present Pandemic Divination Ritual at Buzzcut on Saturday 1 April, a new spoken-word monologue and ‘live-action jukebox’. Buzzcut was founded by Rosana Cade and Nick Anderson, graduates of RCS’s Contemporary Performance Practice programme.

Since March 2020, Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra have adopted a hybrid practice where virtuality and media (film, radio, sound art, photo-performance, online performance and pedagogy) provide ways to continue creating work and reaching audiences and communities of difference.

In 2021, as a featured Fellow in the MacArthur Foundation’s 40th anniversary programming, Gómez-Peña was commissioned to write and present a virtual performance keynote and call to action titled An Open Letter to the Museums of the Future and create a media-based public exhibition Gómez-Peña’s Casa Museo: A Living Museum and Archive at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum in Chicago.

Gómez-Peña is currently working on completing four performance films, producing his weekly podcast with Lumpen Radio/Public Media Institute (Chicago) titled The Mex Files: Audio Art and Strange Poetry from the US/Mexico Border, and touring.

Book tickets for Multiple Journeys at the RCS Box Office

Main image © Zach Gross

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