FDP Colloquium - Laura Gutiérrez
Wed, November 20, 2013 • 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM • BUR 214
Laura G. Gutiérrez
Department of Theatre and Dance / Performance as Public Practice Program
Title for presentation:
Desiring the Possible: Queer Political Cabaret Culture in Contemporary Mexico City
Contemporary political cabaret is a performance practice that mixes various live art strategies from the early part of the twentieth century with contemporary experimental theatre, and fuses them with musical and dance numbers and heavy doses of political satire. The individuals or groups that define themselves as political cabaret practitioners each have an idea of what this practice is, but given that it is currently thriving and is a sort of phenomenon in a micro-level, one could venture and generalize that there is a particular Mexico City style of cabaret. This political cabaret, which has gained currency in the last twenty years, is a particular favorite mode of self-representation for queer artists and activists. My presentation examines the ways in which cabaret is a political and artistic practice that produces a queer space. In more specific terms, political cabaret is part of the growing queer counter-public culture in the city with its left-of-center social and economic politics. Whereas in the early 1990’s political cabaret was mostly restricted to El Hábito—managed artistically and otherwise by the same-sex couple Jesusa Rodríguez and Liliana Felipe—twenty years later, political cabaret has created an alternative queer cultural map of the city. By the latter I do not simply mean that El Hábito continues to exist under a new guise and new management as El Vicio—run by the four-member female queer collective Las Reinas Chulas—but that more urban and symbolic space has been gained in the process. For example, Las Reinas Chulas, in addition to their Festival of International Cabaret, which has been held for 9 consecutive summers now and has spread beyond the space of El Vicio, they have a television program for the national federal cultural channel (CONACULTA), one member is part of a daily radio show (El Weso), another member often takes part of LGBT marches and writes a newspaper column, and most of them have performed in the other city-sanctioned political cabaret space, the Foro A Poco No. My presentation traces the shifts in signification and the growth of political cabaret as it has helped to map a queer public culture in Mexico City. I do the above in order to begin to conceptualize notions of desire in the context of Mexican counter-public culture, not just in relationship to same-sex desire, but also in regard to the possibility of an alternative political future for Mexico, always taking into account its limitations.
Laura G. Gutiérrez (PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison) is Associate Professor of Latin American and Latina/o Performance Studies in the Department of Theatre and Dance/Performance as Public Practice at the University of Texas-Austin. She holds an affiliate appointment in the Center for Mexican American Studies. Her research and teaching interests are Mexican and Chicana/o embodied practices and visual culture, gender and sexuality, and questions of nation, modernity and the transnational. Gutiérrez is the author of Performing Mexicanidad: Vendidas y Cabareteras on the Transnational Stage (U Texas P, 2010), which won The Ninth Annual MLA Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies. Prior to joining the UT faculty, she taught at the University of Arizona where she received the 2012 Provost's General Education Teaching Award, and, before that, the University of Iowa. Gutiérrez is on the Board of Advisors of the Tepoztlán Institute for the Transnational History of the Americas and on the Editorial Board of Feminist Formations.
Laura Gutierrez, Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre & Dance will give a talk as part of the CWGS Faculty Development Program.