San Alamo, or Up-side-down St. Anthony/Right-side-up Alamo, my new long-range performance art project has as its purpose to bring to light the little-known yet significant story of the Mexican American by staging a metaphorical Fiesta Patronal. The Fiesta Patronal is a celebration of the City's namesake, San Antonio or Saint Anthony. It takes place on the saint's feast day, June 13, and is celebrated in front of the saint's shrine, Mission San Antonio de Valero or the Alamo. The city is named in his honor because the Spanish/Mexicans arrived at the future site of the city on June 13, 1691. Historical facts about the role Tejanos and African slaves played with respect to the city's founding and at the events surrounding the battle for the Alamo have long been ignored. To this day the Alamo is a symbol of Anglo Texan hegemony. Re-creating and celebrating the Fiesta Patronal in front of the Alamo will be a way of incorporating a more comprehensive history of the Alamo, San Antonio, and Texas, one that includes everybody. Hopefully this performance will act as a catalyst to bring back the city's Fiesta Patronal.
The sculpture, San Alamo, will be the centerpiece of a procession from a yet to be determined place to the Alamo on St. Anthony’s feast day, June 13, 2010. The statue will be carried by actors dressed as African slaves and period illegal Anglo immigrants. This piece is mounted on a swivel and when it arrives at the Alamo it will be placed on the table of negotiation and flipped! Then the fiesta will begin with an Alamo piñata that spills hundreds of colored babies when broken open. The project is based on the tradition of placing Saint Anthony's statue upside down when requesting a favor from the saint. The favor being requested in this case is that Mexican Americans share in the Alamo legacy and take their rightful place as the heirs of the builders and descendants of the original peoples of the city. Our mixed ancestry--- European, African and Native American--- that has long been disdained is a source of pride to the Mexican-origin population and is in many ways symbolic of the future of the United States.
My hope is that this metaphorical performance will promote greater cultural and historical awareness and understanding and initiate a dialogue leading to a re-conceptualization of the Alamo as a space for celebrating the confluences of the various cultures--- Native American, Spanish, African, Mexican and Anglo--- rather than as a shrine to Anglo Texan hegemony.