The installation of Temple of Confessions--recently exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery and conceived at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Scottsdale Center for the Arts-is a ground breaking performance/installation and now a mass market multi-functional book and CD, mail-in confessional card, rub-on tattoo and web link. The most ambitious project to date of MacArthur Fellow Gómez-Peña and his long time colleague Sifuentes, Temple of Confessions is a complex seduction of the senses-rich colors in subdued candlelight, intoxicating scents of burning incense, ambient music and voices in sound overlays, and haunting, mesmerizing movement. Creating a new ethnographic "diorama" based on religious reenactments displayed in Colonial Mexican churches, Gómez-Peña and Sifuentes exhibit themselves for three-day periods in Plexiglas boxes as cultural specimens and living saints from an endangered Religion. From inside their display cases El Mexterminator and El Cybervato challenge us to reevaluate our beliefs and confess our prejudices.
was born in 1955 and raised in Mexico City, Guillermo Gómez-Peña came to the United States in 1978. In his work, which includes performance art, video, audio, installations, poetry, journalism, critical writings, and cultural theory, he explores cross-cultural issues and North/South relations. He uses his art and writing to reveal the labyrinths of identity and the precipices of nationality.
Gómez-Peña has embarked on a long-term project to make relentlessly experimental yet accessible art; to work in politically and emotionally charged sites, and for diverse audiences; and to collaborate across racial, gender, and age boundaries as a gesture of citizen-diplomacy. Chronicles and scripts of his large-scale projects can be found in three of his books: Mexican Beasts and Living Santos (PowerHouse, 1997), The New World Border (City Lights, 1996. American Book Award) and Warrior for Gringostroika (Graywolf, 1994).
Gómez-Peña was a founding member of the binational arts collective Border Arts Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo (1985-1990), which was featured in the 1990 Venice Bienale, a contributor to the national radio program, Crossroads (1987-1990), and editor of the experimental arts magazine The Broken Line/La Linea Quebrada (1985-1990). In addition to his artistic activities, he is a regular contributor to the national radio news magazine All Things Considered, a writer for newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and Mexico, and a contributing editor to The Drama Review, and La Pusmoderna magazine (Mexico City).
Among numerous fellowships and grants, Gómez-Peña was a recipient of the Prix de la Parole at the 1989 International Theatre of the Americas (Montreal), the 1989 New York Bessie Award, and the Los Angeles Music Center's 1993 Viva Los Artistes Award. In 1991, Gómez-Peña became the first Chicano/Mexicano artist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship (1991-1996). In 1995, he was included in The Utne Reader's "List of 100 Visionaries."
In early 1995, he participated in the project Terreno Peligroso/Danger Zone, a binational exchange of art and ideas between Chicano and Mexican performance artists, which included both private and public dialogues and performances in Los Angeles and Mexico City. In November 1995, he collaborated on an installation with James Luna and Gómez-Peña called The Shame-Man and El Mexi-Can't meet the Cyber-Vatos, which premiered at the Diverse Works Gallery in Houston. As part of this project, Sifuentes conducted workshops with young "at risk" artists utilizing computers and the Internet to transmit and discuss issues ranging from affirmative action and Proposition 187 to the Zapatista movement in Chiapas.