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Warrior for Gringostroika
By Guillermo Gomez-Pena
Graywolf PressCopyright © 1993 Guillermo Gómez-Peña
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Border Is ... A Manifesto / 1989
Border culture is a polysemantic term.
Stepping outside of one's culture is equivalent to walking outside of the law.
Border culture means boycott, complot, ilegalidad, clandestinidad, contrabando, transgresión, desobediencia binacional; en otros palabras, to smuggle dangerous poetry and utopian visions from one culture to another, desde allá, hasta acá.
But it also means to maintain one's dignity outside the law.
But it also means hybrid art forms for new contents-in-gestation: spray mural, techno-altar, poetry-in-tongues, audio graffiti, punkarachi, video corrido, anti-bolero, anti-todo: la migra (border patrol), art world, police, monocultura; en otras palabras y tierras, an art against the monolingües, tapados, nacionalistas, ex-teticistas en extinci-n, per omnia saecula speculorum ...
But it also means to be fluid in English, Spanish, Spanglish, and Ingleñol, 'cause Spanglish is the language of border diplomacy.
But is also means transcultural friendship and collaboration among races, sexes, and generations.
But it also means to practice creative appropriation, expropriation, and subversion of dominant cultural forms.
But it also means a new cartography; a brand-new map to host the new project; the democratization of the East; the socialization of the West; the Third-Worldization of the North and the First-Worldization of the South.
But it also means a multiplicity of voices away from the center, different geo-cultural relations among more culturally akin regions: Tepito-San Diejuana, San Pancho-Nuyorrico, Miami-Quebec, San Antonio-Berlin, your home town and mine, digamos, a new internationalism ex centris.
But it also means regresar y volver a partir: to return and depart once again, 'cause border culture is a Sisyphean experience and to arrive is just an illusion.
But it also means a new terminology for new hybrid identities and métiers constantly metamorphosing: sudacá, not sudaca; Chicarrican, not Hispanic; mestizaje, not miscegenation; social thinker, not bohemian; accionista, not performer; intercultural, not postmodern.
But it also means to develop new models to interpret the world-in-crisis, the only world we know.
But it also means to push the borders of countries and languages or, better said, to find new languages to express the fluctuating borders.
But it also means experimenting with the fringes between art and society, legalidad and illegality, English and español, male and female, North and South, self and other, and subverting these relationships.
But it also means to speak from the crevasse, desde acá, desde el medio. The border is the juncture, not the edge, and monoculturalism has been expelled to the margins.
But it also means glasnost, not government censorship, for censorship is the opposite of border culture.
But it also means to analyze critically all that lies on the current table of debates: multiculturalism, the Latino "boom," "ethnic art," controversial art, even border culture.
But it also means to question and transgress border culture. What today is powerful and necessary, tomorrow is arcane and ridiculous; what today is border culture, tomorrow is institutional art, not vice versa.
But it also means to escape the current cooptation of border culture.
But it also means to look at the past and the future at the same time. 1492 was the beginning of a genocidal era. 1992 will mark the beginning of a new era: America post-Colombina, Arteamérica sin fronteras. Soon, a new internationalism will have to gravitate around the spinal cord of this continent-not Europe, not just the North, not just white, not only you, compañero del otro lado de la frontera, el lenguaje y el océano.
Excerpted from Warrior for Gringostroika by Guillermo Gomez-Pena Copyright © 1993 by Guillermo Gómez-Peña. Excerpted by permission.
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