rafa esparza runs the entire perimeter of the park in a continuous loop from 7:30pm-9pm. He wears an all-black jogging suit with the hoodie pulled up over his head, sunglasses, and a black bandana wrapped around each hand. He holds up a heavy mirror with an ornate frame, which partially conceals his body and reflects the surrounding landscape. Small mirrors are strapped to his ankles, bouncing with each step. His pace is heavy yet steady, as it tracks the less-populated periphery of the park. From the field, one can catch a glimmer of light bouncing off the many mirrors in the distance. esparza, however, is invisible, disappearing into the dark. This endurance-based work unsettles audience expectations of a performance, and in how we see, identify, and consume the performing body. Within public space, it speaks to how racialized masculinities are hypervisible and vulnerable to the violence of the gaze. esparza’s extended run is a performance that redirects this gaze, shields the body, and refuses legibility.
rafa esparza is a multidisciplinary artist whose work reveals his interests in history, personal narratives, and kinship, his own relationship to colonization and the disrupted genealogies that it produces. esparza employs site-specificity, materiality, memory, and what he calls (non)documentation as primary tools to investigate and expose ideologies, power structures, and binary forms of identity that establish narratives, history, and social environments. esparza’s projects invite Brown and Queer cultural producers to realize large-scale collective projects, gathering people together to build networks of support outside of traditional art spaces.