In conjunction with his Imperial Silence performances at MCA Stage and the Muertorider exhibit on the MCA Plaza, artist John Jota Leaños explores the decolonial and transformative potentials of art in a time of “infinite war” and economic collapse. He discusses his approach to public art, performance, dance, opera, and documentary animation from Latino perspectives with an eye on popular culture and mainstream media.
John Jota Leaños is an animator and new media artist focusing on critical convergences of history, memory, and decolonization. Leaños’ animation, installation, and performance fuse traditional art practices and aesthetics with new technologies and contemporary interpretations. Leaños is a Creative Capital Foundation Grantee who has received the 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship in Creative Arts, the United States Artist Fellowship (2011), San Francisco Art Commission Individual Artist Grant (2011), and the National Association for Latino Arts and Culture Artist Award (2012). His animations have screened internationally at dozens of festivals and museums including the Sundance Film Festival (2010, 2006), Cannes Film Festival (France, 2007), Morelia International Film Festival (Mexico, 2008), WILDsound Film Festival (Toronto, 2008), BAM/PFA (2011), Artivist Film Festival (2006), the KOS Convention (2007), the de Young Museum (2010) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2008, 2006). He has also shown at the 2002 Whitney Biennial, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Galería de la Raza. He is currently an assistant professor of social documentation at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the Department of Film and Digital Media.