I grew up in the border region and had always wanted to know who I am. Then, over time, it no longer mattered to me to know who I was but rather what others were in me, and I in others. Later, I wanted to know what the border was, why could some people cross it and others could not. And so, I embodied the border. I then understood that the border was distributed in many borders and that the people that lived in them were always changing, as my being.
All of this unfolded in my thirst for knowledge. So I began do draw, paint, read, write, perform—without knowing what this is, for I wanted to know, and something or someone had to give me these answers. The border multiplied me because of my need to disassemble my identities and walk to encounter something—call it justice, truth, love, or spirituality. There I grew up watching movies of El Santo and Blue Demon, reading Kalimán every week, and believing that Christ was a performer. Parallel to this, my beloved grandmother taught me the art of reading Tarot cards and the concept of witchcraft.
One day I arrived in El Nopal Centenario (1981-1989), where I met Felipe Almada and Benjamín Serrano. The latter would be my drawing and painting teacher, and the former a friend and colleague. Then I met Markus Kurticks, who would be my mentor in performance and sculpture. I also met Guillermo Gómez-Peña: friend, collaborator, and a great influence in the art of performance. This community gave me support and shelter, and is in my heart forever. There I met other artists and we organized pilgrimages, expositions, public art, etc. There, my political belief was asserted between the university and El Nopal, between local and global.
In 1990 I traveled to Brazil, and for a year I worked and studied at USPI (Universidad de San Pablo) in the art of performance and plastic arts. It was there where I went to jail for the first time for doing performance with knives in the street. The second time was in Tijuana, for performing on the street with the head of a cow and the Mexican flag on my chest, dressed as a Zapatista. Then I was deported to both sides of the border, and so I was left with no border, no fatherland, and no motherland. In 1991 I returned to Tijuana and collaborated with the Border Art Workshop. Later I traveled to Sinaloa and taught performance art at the university. I keep painting and engraving, participating in national and international biennials. Next come National and International awards. In 1994, Zapatismo made me aware of my work as an artist, and I rethinking my path. Then come presentations of performance and installation. Later, I specialize in the art of monumental engraving/printmaking and I travel to Cuba to participate in "La Joven Estampa Latinoamericana;" this was a great experience, and offered great personal growth. Then I travel and participate in biennials, and begin a more intense work involved with the communities, teaching monumental engraving/printmaking and performance. In 1999 I marry and keep working as a teacher and plastic artist in schools and communities. Since then, I keep practicing art on both sides of the border, in Latin America, and in Europe. My wish is to continue learning and practicing, to keep building and connecting communities through engraving/printmaking, drawing, performance, pedagogy, and new mediums. If nowadays being a performer means to reinvent myself each day, create, think, build communities, make life a manifesto in constant transformation and reinvention, then I am a performer with the profound desire to connect and build communities with my work and with others.
From the burning border,
José Hugo Sánchez