In this talk Dr. Vicente Carrillo explores how queer of color artists imagine belonging in the gentrifying terrains of East L.A. Thinking alongside queer brown artist rafa esparza’s 2018 public performance, de la Calle, Carrillo explores the region of los callejones – an informal street vendor economy located in Los Angeles’ Fashion District. Re-working the space into a catwalk, rafa foregrounds a queer brown working-class aesthetic that pushes against the global economy of “high-fashion,” an industry that has continuously deployed state violence to discipline this – “counterfeit” – working-class economy. Thinking of East LA through queerness and queerness through East LA, this talk refuses the racial and gendered scripts that have framed East LA as a “dangerous” area or a zone of hyper-activism. Through rafa’s public performances, Carrillo argues that queer artists of color, while straddling the contested terrains of artwashing, find distinct ways to re-emplace queerness into the East LA imaginary, an act that centers queer pleasure as integral to placemaking.
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