José Villalobos: Deeply Rooted, Cultured and Silenced

Deeply Rooted, Cultured and Silenced is a performance work that address the silencing amongst queer individuals in Latinx spaces and the detriment caused by cultural and traditional expectations. This performence was part of the Fluid Gaze opening reception , held at 516 ARTS on September 30, 2023, with over 300 people in attendance. 

Villalobos grew up on the US/Mexico border in El Paso, TX, and was raised in a traditional and religiously (Evangelical) conservative family. His work reconciles the identity challenges in his life, caught in between traditional Mexican customs and American mores, as well as growing up with religious ideals that conflict and condemn being gay. Villalobos confronts the derogatory terms and attitudes that he continues to withstand today. The root of Villalobos’s work lies in the performativity of his identity. His accouterments are proud connections to his heritage but are also reminders of the hate and homophobia that he has had to endure. Villalobos manipulates material through the context of self-identity as he examines gender roles within family culture. He demonstrates that dismantling traditional modes of masculine identity centers an interstitial space where materiality softens virility. Villalobos protests the toxicity of machismo using objects, specifically within the norteño culture, that carry a history by deconstructing and altering them. Although new forms are created, he demonstrates the battle between the acceptance of being a maricón and assimilating to the cultural expectations.