Emilio Rojas: GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM!
Emilio Rojas is a multidisciplinary artist working primarily with the body in performance, using video, photography, installation, public interventions, and sculpture. He holds an M.F.A. in Performance from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a B.F.A. in Film from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Canada. As a queer, Latinx immigrant with Indigenous heritage, it is essential to his practice to engage in the postcolonial ethical imperative to uncover, investigate, and make visible and audible undervalued or disparaged sites of knowledge, narratives, and individuals. He utilizes his body in a political and critical way, as an instrument to unearth removed traumas, embodied forms of decolonization, migration, and poetics of space. His research-based practice is heavily influenced by queer and feminist archives, border politics, botanical colonialism, and defaced monuments. Besides his artistic practice, he is also a translator, community activist, yoga teacher, and anti-oppression facilitator with queer, migrant, and refugee youth.
His work has been exhibited in exhibitions and festivals in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Japan, Austria, England, Greece, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland, Colombia, and Australia, as well as institutions such as The Art Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Ex-Teresa Arte Actual Museum and Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, The Vancouver Art Gallery, The Surrey Art Gallery, The DePaul Art Museum, and The Botin Foundation. From 2019-2022 Rojas was a Visiting Artist in Residency in the Theater and Performance Department at Bard College in New York. He is also currently visiting faculty in the M.F.A. programs at Parsons the New School and the low-res M.F.A. programs at PNCA in Portland, Oregon, and University of the Arts, in Philadelphia.
GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM! is a lecture/performance by artist Emilio Rojas, departing from this xenophobic phrase to trace histories of colonialism, the open wounds of borders, and the emptiness of monuments. This embodied lecture considers his practice in relation to decolonization, de-linking, archives, queerness, and contaminations into public space. It is not an attempt to re-write history but rather to view it from a different orientation, in a non-linear way which opens spaces of liminality and possibility, remembrance and healing. It urges us to ask ourselves: How are we complicit with the past we inherited? How are we accomplices of the history of what we consume in the present?
Emilio Rojas is the fall 2022 Teiger Mentor in the Arts.