On May 10, 2017, Bruno Avendaño, a young man from Oaxaca enrolled in the Mexican navy, disappeared in the town of Santo Domingo Tehuantepec without, to date, a single piece of news of his whereabouts. His case is no different from many other Mexican citizens forcibly disappeared in the country since 2010. Nonetheless, Bruno's disappearance has achieved quite an international visibility that only a few other disappeared people have: Bruno is the brother of artist Lukas Avendaño. Since that day, Lukas has used every platform to denounce the situation and make Bruno's absence present.
As Lukas states, Bruno's disappearance has put to the test the foundations on which his artistic practice has been shaped. Lukas uses his body and the stage (theatrical, performative and digital) to make his missing brother "present" and, in turn, to denounce the State's total absence of guarantees and human rights.
Faced with the systematic practice of disappearing bodies, Lukas, through his artistic practice, implements strategies that bet on life and on the possibility of turning vulnerability and absence into a "happy experience".
Watch Lukas explaining his brother's disappearance in this video (Spanish, without subtitles).
Artist, anthropologist and activist (1977, Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico)
“Lukas Avendaño is an emerging Mexican performance artist whose recent work constitutes a queer performatic intervention of Mexican nationalistic representations, particularly that of Zapotec Tehuana women. Avendaño embodies the complex identity of muxes, or male homosexuals from the Tehuantepec Isthmus where he was born. His cross-dressing performance interweaves ritual dances with autobiographical passages and actions that involve audience members, in order to challenge the widely held view of a gay-friendly indigenous culture and point towards the existence of lives that negotiate pain and loneliness with self-affirming pride... Avendaño’s work queers the very concept of representation, placing it under erasure to point towards the possibility of ‘representaXión’, a word which suggests a sensual, disidentificatory and body-based kind of performance”.
(Antonio Prieto Stambaugh)
Event in collaboration with Performance Reihe Neu-Oerlikon
Image: Mario Patiño