Event Date
Apr 20, 2017
Alan Palaez Lopez, UC Berkeley
Andrew Gayed, York University
Marco Antonio Flores, UC Berkeley

Alan Palaez Lopez, Marco Antonio Flores, Andrew Gayed




The Center for Race & Gender Thursday Forum Series presents…

Visual Vocabularies & Queer Citizenships

Recuperating Afro-Indigenous Pasts: Collage Art and the Case of Undocumented Migration
Alan Palaez Lopez, Comparative Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

What does it mean to live in the United States as an undocumented Black and Indigenous immigrant? What types of memories do the undocumented have access to? This paper serves as a preliminary exploration of the ways in which undocumented immigrants develop visual and literary vocabularies in which to narrate their stories. Particularly, I focus on the collage-art of Afro-Oaxacan visual artists and botanist, Yesi. Through artist interviews, text exchanges, close readings and visual critiques of her work, I argue that Yesi’s use of collage-art serves as a method of creating counter-memories, recuperating past(s), contextualizing the present, and re-imagining an afro-indigenous future.

Islamicate Sexualities: Locating Race and Gender within the History of Sexuality
Andrew Gayed, York University

I will use visual art to investigate Middle Eastern homosexuality and focus on issues of Modernity, multiple Modernisms, and the West’s claim to Modernity. This discussion will have us thinking about Arab homo-sexualities in terms of desire and alternative masculinities rather than Western notions of visibility and coming out; narratives which are not conducive to understanding how Queer Arabs living in the West experience their sexuality. This is a discussion rooted in sociological ideas of gender, nationalism, and sexuality, and the triangulation of identity and oppression that could arise at their intersection. My intent is to see if we can reach a narrative of Western and non-Western Modernity that works beyond sexual oppression (Middle East) versus sexual acceptance (North America), and instead examines a negotiation of diasporic sexuality by incorporating different sociological strategies to help self-identification categories be less dichotomous.

Gay Arab societies enjoy subtle networks of expressing sexualities and identities, and these networks have been strongly influenced and changed by discourses of modernity and Western imperialism. Through case studies of visual art, this analysis will illustrate how the legacy of modernity has not yet erased these subtle networks of communication, and how diasporic subjects are conflicted by adhering to multiple identity narratives from multiple cultural sources. It is my contention that diasporic identity and sexuality can globally portray the culturally-specific local narratives of sexuality. In this way, we can see how local sexuality narratives are not passively being colonized by Western Queer discourse; instead, localized understandings of sexualities are being internalized and conceptualized by the diaspora, and the contemporary art they produce. The visual art of diasporic artists living in the West in conjunction with Queer artists living and working in the Middle East can contribute to understanding these local identity narratives, and how they manifest themselves in the lives of diasporic subjects globally.

Landscapes of Intimacy
Marco Antonio Flores, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley

Flores analyzes Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (billboard of an empty bed), 1991 as an important threshold in contemporary art history. He reads Gonzales-Torres’s image of a disheveled bed as suggestive of a disappearing presence and this evocation of absent bodies soon came to define all of Felix Gonzales-Torres’s work up until his death in 1996 from AIDS-related causes.


Alan Pelaez Lopez is an adornment artist and a writer from the southern coast of Oaxaca, México. At Berkeley, Alan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies, where he examines the ways in which undocumented Black immigrants create art spaces as a form of political protest that resist notions of Black citizenship and illegality. Alan’s poetry and non-fiction essays are influenced by growing up undocumented in the hoods of Boston and New York City. His work can be found in Everyday Feminism; TeleSur; The Feminist Wire; Black Girl Dangerous; Fusion Magazine; A Quiet Courage, and more.

Andrew Gayed is an art historian and researcher interested in Photography, Middle Eastern Contemporary Art, Identity Politics, and Migration/Diaspora studies. Gayed is a PhD candidate in Art History and Visual Culture at York University, and holds an M.A in Art History from Carleton University, and a B.F.A in Visual Arts from the University of Ottawa.  His research investigates Middle Eastern Contemporary Art, with a focus on photographic art being produced by the North American diaspora. This includes Middle Eastern artists working from Canada and the United States, creating artwork surrounding diasporic identity. His research emphasizes themes of migration, and the political artwork that is associated with the diasporic community. Gayed’s research is located at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary and transnational inquiry in art history, gender studies, and cultural studies. Gayed has been the recipient of notable awards including the SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Award, a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Masters Award, and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Chapters of his dissertation have been presented at conferences internationally at Duke University and Oxford University on two occasions, in addition to presentations before Canadian audiences.

Marco Antonio Flores is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  His current research interests include contemporary queer and trans Chicana/o and U.S. Latina/o arts in visual culture, performance art, and experimental film. Through his interdisciplinary training, he hopes to contribute to understandings of the spiritual, the political, and the aesthetic in Chicana/o Art theories and practices.

He is an active member of numerous campus initiatives and is affiliated with the Center for Race and Gender; the Center for Latino Policy Research; the Performance in the Americas Working Group. In 2015 he participated in the Smithsonian Latino Center’s Latino Museum Studies Program and currently a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow.  Flores completed his B.A. from the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and M.A. in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.