The Tiki TIki Club: A talk with artist Shaun Leonardo
Wednesday, February 06 2013
The day after Valentine's Day, 'How Much Do I Owe You?' artist Shaun Leonardo will transform the exhibition into a Tiki Tiki or 'Mesera' club for the evening - but in reverse. We talked to Shaun about why he wanted to create a performance around the 'Mesera Club', a growing popular night club phenomenon in Queens:
The intricacies of the social dynamic present at a Mesera Club are complicated. Often times the Latin men that visit these clubs are your low-wage manual laborers, and generally feel undervalued in their lives. Their Latino cultural prowess – their machismo – is diminished. Although lonely and in search of a semblance of companionship, the roles assumed at a Mesera Club also reaffirm the worth and ego of these men. This is especially evident as men start electing their dance partners. The couples dance on an elevated stage in clear view of every other man who has not yet risen from their seat. In essence, in choosing a dance partner each man “performs” for an audience. It is a social system in which a man is given the opportunity to reassert his traditional male stature.
The objective of my Tiki Tiki Club performance is to reverse this power dynamic at play and further interrogate expectations of assumed gender roles. The goal is to create a moment of empowerment for the women present while at once developing a dialogue around the desires, doubts, and behaviors that today make up ideas of machismo.
Come join us on February 15th from 7-10 pm for this performance and party! There will be a DJ, drinks, dancing, and fun.