1994-96

Roberto and I tour Temple of Confessions, a performance/installation combining the format of the ethnographic diorama with that of the religious dioramas found in colonial Mexican churches. For three-day periods, we exhibit ourselves inside Plexiglas boxes as "end-of-the-century saints." Those visitors who wish to "confess" their intercultural fears and desires to us have three options: they can either confess into microphones placed on kneelers in front of the boxes (their voices are recorded and altered in post-production to ensure their anonymity), or, if they are shy, they can write their confessions on cards and deposit them in an urn. If they are extremely shy, they can call an 800 number.

The "confessions" are quite emotional and intimate. They range from confessions of extreme violence and racism toward Mexicans and other people of color, to expressions of incommensurable tenderness and solidarity with us, or with our perceived cause. Some are filled with guilt or fear, fear of cultural/political/sexual invasion, violence, rape, and disease. Other confessions are fantasies about escaping one's identity: Anglos wanting to be Mexican or Indian or vice versa, self-hating Latinos wanting to be Anglo or simply "blond." There are also many descriptions (both real and fictitious, but equally revealing) of intercultural sexual encounters.

By the end of the third day, we leave the Plexiglas boxes and are replaced by human-sized wax effigies. The Temple of Confessions remains as an installation piece for eight weeks, and written and phone confessions continue to be accepted. The project is documented in a PBS documentary, a radio documentary for NPR, and a book (Power House, NY) with the same title. The last performance of the tour takes place at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

14_lg

directional
*Radio Free Pocha