Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is the massive arts festival that has brought Los Angeles four months of more than 40 exhibitions on the relationship between the city and Latin America. Thanks to million-dollar grants from the Getty Foundation, PST has delved into under-researched areas in Latin American art history to produce unprecedented shows such as the first major display of Guatemalan art in the country and an intersectional investigation into the female pioneers of protest art.
This week, PST introduces another first: an 11-day festival of performance art from more than 200 Latino and Latin American artists. As indicated by its tagline “A Celebration Beyond Borders”, the festival intends to unite the artwork of diverse movements, eras, and regions in Latin America, but also to highlight artists that are actively resisting tensions and divisions in their society.
Check out the following six performance art events (concluding this weekend) that promise a unique opportunity to engage with highly influential Latin American artists and the Los Angeles community.
When: Now until January 20 Where: Various locations Price: Free
Colectivo AM’s project Banco Universal de Pasos calls on Los Angelenos to bring forward their best dance moves. Since 2014, the Mexico City-based collective has documented and catalogued everyday choreography for their online database Banco Universal de Paso and this week they arrive in the barrios of Los Angeles with a photo booth to capture “donated” dance steps through video and GIFs. Colectivo AM views dance as mode of knowledge and by preserving popular dance steps, ponder what corporal expression reveals about individual and group identity as well as resistance. Their week of events ends with La Pista de Baile on Saturday when Los Angeles’ diverse communities are invited to come together for four hours of music and dance. A video of every dance step collected will also be projected at the show.
When: January 18, 8:30 p.m. Where: Lower Grand, 631 W. 2nd St, Los Angeles, 90012 Price: Sliding scale
The Mexican ensemble Teatro Linea de Sombra alludes to the country’s complex history of student activism and state violence in their performance piece, Durango 66. The performance recalls definitive moments in Mexico’s past that calls into question present government policies of privatization and the exploitation of natural resources, such as the protest movement of the 1960s, the mass graves found in Durango in 2011, and the massacre of students in Ayotzinapa in 2014. While looking back at historical events may create a bleak picture of the past, it can also dig up forgotten moments of powerful protest. The performance ends by reflection on a student action from more than 50 years ago that occupied a mountainous area in Durango designated for logging. In collaboration with CalArts students, the theatre troupe will use construction vehicles, soil, and cutouts to recreate fragments of the past in an underground theater built specifically for the performance.
Performed in Spanish and English, with English subtitles.
When: January 18-20 Where: REDCAT (Theater), 631 W. 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 Price: $12-$15
In “Discurso de Promocion”, Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani challenges the history of nation-building the Peruvian government proposes to celebrate in the 2021 Bicentennial. The multidisciplinary and experimental piece focuses on Peruvian history after the cry for independence and reevaluates the national heroes and celebrated events of the past. In this fashion, the performances of Yuyachkani take on a pedagogical turn by engaging the public in critical thinking about the past and current state policies. Founded in 1971, the Peruvian group explores collective memory and the country’s record of violence against indigenous peoples, exemplified in the name of the group Yuyachkani, a Quechuan word for “I am thinking, I am remembering.”
Performed in Spanish with English translation.
Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa: El Corazón del espantapájaros (Heart of the Scarecrow)
When: January 19 Where: LACMA (Rodin Sculpture Garden), 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, 90036 Cost: Free
Guatemalan artist Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa takes inspiration for his artwork by salvaging historical memories. For PST, Ramírez-Figueroa presents a performance inspired by the 1962 play El Corazón del espantapájaros written by Guatemalan playwright Hugo Carillo. The original production won critical praise, but was later censored in 1975 following a string of death threats that targeted the play for its leftist ideologies. Inspired by Hamlet, the play features students in clown make up acting as politicians and police officers. Ramírez-Figueroa remakes the play and includes a new script and costumes and sculptures designed by the artist.
When: January 20 Where: The Broad, 221 S. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, 90012 Price: $25
The Formaldehyde Trip is a series of music videos directed by Mexico City-based artist Noami Rincon Gallardo. The stories follow an imagined rendition of the murdered Mixtec activist Alberta Cariño’s journey into the underworld, where witches, warriors, and dual-gendered deities prepare her for her re-birth. The performances rely on Mesoamerican mythology, feminist punk aesthetics, Mexican B-side sci-fi films to create an eclectic vision of the world that denounces regressive politics and affirms the rights of the indigenous, the environment, and women. Rincon’s lyrics, which accompany the campy musical production, also remind the audience of the power they too wield: “Talk back, write back, take back energy.”
Rafa Esparza: cumbre: look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west
When: January 21
Where: The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 152 N. Central Ave, Los Angeles, 90012
LA artist Rafa Esparza, the son of Mexican immigrants, often draws inspiration for his artwork from his family history and decolonial theory. In his newly commissioned piece, Esparza again takes from his personal stories for a three-part performance that addresses the stories of immigration and their mark on LA culture. Esparza examines how bridges and bodies of water can act as both sites of connection and healing as well as division and risk.