Excerpts from DOC/UNDOC: TRANSGRESS, TRANSCEND, TRANSFORM
What does it mean to be documented or undocumented? How do these terms work across borders and boundaries such as those that exist between nations and languages? What are the forms of policing and regulation that maintain such categories out of fear, cultural difference, or economic domination? What parts of our lives are documented and what parts remain undocumented? These are the questions that underlie the decidedly shrewd, collaborative, and experimental artwork-in-a-box by Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Gustavo Vazquez, Felicia Rice and Zachary Watkins. In a contemporary gesture toward the Wagnerian “total work of art” or gesamtkunstwerk the project combines the fine art of the printed book with sound, video, and a playful kit of objects to explore and to heal what might be seen as the cultural, social, and historical rifts that exist between the United States and Mexico. The idea is to invite viewers into an intimate space of engagement that addresses all of the senses: tactile, olfactory, aural, and visual. Although it is a contemporary work of art, the aluminum case has an antique feel with hand-wrought hinges and knobs. Opening it, we are exposed to the treasures within, unfolding a triptych to reveal ourselves reflected in mirrors. As we move through the various sound elements and explore the objects housed in individual niches, we are drawn in by curiosity. Even the sense of taste (including bad taste) is leveraged in a playful way; but the broader social concerns are deadly serious. How can we see this artwork as part of a longer tradition of conceptual art, religious reliquaries, indigenous medicine practices, and camp theatricality? How do these diverse histories invite a peculiar cohesion in the final product?
DOC/UNDOC is an effort to see what is repressed, to unearth what is buried, to reach into the interior, psychic state of radical unbelonging in order to grasp the intricate, violent workings of the world that have resulted in this uneven, unequal, and unjust conjuncture. “Is there still time for dreaming, for reinventing ourselves…Is there enough time to stop the war, another war…Is there enough time to return to a homeland, a stolen homeland…?”