EDUCATION AND THE BORDERZONE: OPENING UP CONVERSATIONS WITH THE PERFORMANCE ART OF GUILLERMO GOMEZ-PENA
Harold Washington College (UNITED STATES)
Art is used as a form of mediation in many fields. It is used to heal and treat, to uncover unconscious experiences, and to tap into different ways of knowing. In education art promotes individual expression by encouraging creativity and by opening up possibilities to different ways of experiencing and understanding. This presentation will examine the performance art of Guillermo Gómez-Peña as a form of public pedagogy and will highlight the ways in which it can be used to enhance the learning experience.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña was born in 1955 and raised in Mexico City until 1978 at which time he immigrated to the United States. Through performance art, poetry, journalism, critical writings, and cultural theory, Gómez-Peña explores cross-cultural issues including immigration, the politics of language, “extreme culture” and new technologies and transnationalism. Gómez-Peña’s performance art uses the body to create borderzones, a corporeal intertexuality, by blending symbols, genres, gender associations, cultural icons, and historical time which serves to dismantle hierarchy, binaries and static definitions. My ongoing work examines these body borderzones, characterized by heterogeneity, contradiction and competing discourses, which I argue are sites of possibility. I use a/r/tography to investigate this phenomenon.
A/r/tography is an arts-based methodology that places emphasis on the mode of searching or the inquiry process rather than the end result or the representation. It merges the identity of the artist/researcher/teacher and blurs the boundary between researcher and participants (Springgay, 2005). It incorporates the metaphor of the rhizome to conceptualize learning and inquiry, which like the rhizome, has no beginning and no end. Knowledge is not conceived in dualist categories. Instead attention is paid to the in-betweens where meanings reside in the simultaneous use of language, materials, situations space and time. It utilizes the idea of currere, an autobiographical approach discussed by educational scholar William Pinar in 1975. I define a/r/togrpahy as a border methodology and use it to explore borderzone art in education by asking the following questions:
1) How does the performance art of Gómez-Peña create borderzones that open up classroom conversations to new epistemological in-between positions that are absent from school curriculum?
2) How does the performance art of Gómez-Peña create uncertainty, confusion and unease and how do these cognitive spaces embody innovation and liberation?
My goal of using the work of Gómez-Peña is to develop illustrate how learning can be relevant and meaningful to each student by opening up classroom conversations to new ways of knowing and to encourage students to participate in epistemology-in-the-making. I hope my work inspires educators to utilize outside curriculum to enhance learning and to develop the literacies required to deal with and talk about uncertainty. To teach the curriculum of static truths and rights and wrongs is to teach from power, and teaching from power perpetuates repression and oppression and does not allow for what Pinar terms “our ongoing subjective self-formulation in society.”
 Pinar. W.F. (Ed.). (1975). Curriculum Theorizing: The Reconceptualists. Berkely, CA: McCutchen.
 Springgay, S., Irwin, R. L. & Wilson Kind, S. (2005). A/r/tography as Living Inquiry through Art and Text. Qualitative Inquiry, 11(6), 897-912.