Guillermo Gómez-Peña: Sophisticated Seduction

Carol Becker

Referring to Guillermo Gómez-Peña as a ‘transnational post-Mexican Aztec-cyborg,’ Carol Becker discusses Gómez-Peña’s desire to repudiate the commonly perceived one-dimensional character of North American cultural identity and to combat this reductive compartmentalization by confronting us with the gray area of cultural identity that is excluded and undermined by normative descriptive categories.  Particular attention is paid to his use of linguistic site specificity during his performances, in which his use of Spanglish addresses only a particular segment of the audience completely, thereby capitalizing upon the fact that language competency and thereby the reception of his ideas will vary from performance to performance.  In light of this, the visual element becomes increasingly important in interpreting the work if the viewer cannot understand Gómez-Peña, and as such the audience comes to reflect a continuum of interpretive strategies, ranging from purely visual to purely linguistic, enabling a hybridity that transcends simple linguistic (and by extension, cultural) boundaries.