José Guadalupe Sanchez plans to read a text out loud. He has his paper in hand, ready-to-go, yet each time he tries, he encounters a slight problem. His stool—a narrow seat that is streamed with lights to illuminate his actions—cannot bear the weight of his body. He sits and it collapses under him. He falls to the floor, gets up, re-assembles the seat, and tries again. He falls again. The structure comes apart at the joints—what should be his support is, in fact, debilitating. This scenario repeats over and over, turning the mundane into a Sisyphean project. Each time the artist falls, he hurriedly gets up, growing more frustrated. “You think you are better than me?” he yells, “Come on man!” In moments of heightened emotion, he slaps himself, directing his anger inwards at his inability to get the job done. He repeats this attempt, which goes on for so long that it seems he will never manage to sit down, never read the text, never get it right. At the end of the night, Sanchez finally makes his way to the park’s center stage. He seems to have given up on the stool and instead is now directing his attention towards the microphone. He pauses, then starts to reads the text. He recites a heartfelt letter of gratitude to his brother, which concludes with the moving words, “I love you brother, for all of it.” Sanchez then approaches the audience and embraces his brother, who has been here watching the entire time. The artist’s harrowing solo is a testament to the difficulty of arriving at certain words, and of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to recognize and acknowledge those who held us up when we needed the support.
José Guadalupe Sanchez is an interdisciplinary artist and educator. Relying heavily on self-reflexivity, his work is an investigation of the multilayered experiences of varying social realities in Los Angeles. This includes looking at the structural nature of oppositional value systems, epistemologies, subjectivities, and how they become validated or not. A driving question in his practice asks, “how as artists can we make work that, on the one hand, validates the neglected experiences of the people we care about (i.e., through direct positive representation and intervention) and, on the other, be a critical reflection on those structures that created the conditions of making a people socially, politically, economically invisible?” Additionally, his practice includes an exploration of ‘world-making’ in opposition to epistemological homogeneity. His projects manifest as pedagogical interventions as an arts educator, paintings, performance, video, documentary video, and his socially engaged art practice.