Artists explore Latino stereotypes and identity

By Jesus Figueroa and Jade Inglada

Artists Rafa Esparza’s and Sebastian Hernandez’s “No Water Under the Bridge” explored Latino stereotypes and identity last Saturday in East Los Angeles.

The performance was located under the bridge on Fourth and Lorena streets, where gang violence and murders have occurred in the past.

It started with no warning as preparation became a part of the show.

People in cars that passed by could not help but stop to inquire what was happening under the bridge.

Many passersby parked and kept watching the performance in awe of what their community was being exposed to.

Esparza said he wishes to bring art to places where people would not always have the luxury to experience it, places where the community does always have the opportunity to visit a museum.

Although the performers did not interact with the audience, their unconventional show inspired fear in some of the younger audience members in attendance.

The bloody figure that Esperza ended up portraying during the performance was slightly chilling.

Esparza and Hernandez walked around hanging flowers from the bridge before changing into their costumes.

It’s a representative performance of the struggles the artist has gone through and the connection he has developed with his troubled past and ancestral heritage.

The audience stood at the edge of the street looking on in astonishment as Esparza danced around clapping as  Hernandez performed a tribal ethnic dance.

The colorful costume with skull decorations, a feathered crown and straps with shells on his ankles that rattled while he danced were reminiscent of a Hispanic folk dance.

Esparza covered himself with the artificial blood he had been preparing while his partner danced.

Bloody handprints were left on the bridge as Esparza ran his hands down a pillar from the bridge.

Posing in almost a prayer like state around Hernandez, Esparza posed and kept the small crowd’s attention.

The bridge played an important role in their performances.

It acts as a physical symbol, connecting the portrayals of the public’s Latino stereotypes and self-identity to bring them together into one space.

The small crowd created an intimate showing.

The performance was in conjunction with Esparza’s current display of fine art at  VPAM’s “Hoy Space” from Feb. 8 through April 25.


Douglas Gonzalez contributed to this story.

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