Inspired by the pre-Hispanic codices that escaped immolation during colonial invasions, this artists' book opens out in accordion folds expanding to a length of over 21 feet. Rice has created a series of beautiful and jarring montages in which the mixture of languages, slang, poetry, and prose of Gómez-Peña's performance texts are woven through and around Chagoya's collages filled with pre-Hispanic drawings, colonial-era representations of New World natives, and comic book superheroes. Irreverent to the last, Gómez-Peña and Chagoya employ iconic figures and persistent stereotypes to overturn the fantasies of nationalism, ethnocentrism, and historical amnesia that cloud international relations. Rice's masterful typographic compositions orchestrate the text's many voices and views, offering a history of the Americas which must be read forward and backward, in fragments and in recurring episodes—in short, as history itself tends to unfold.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña was born in Mexico City in 1955 and came to the U.S. in 1978. His work, which includes performance art, poetry, journalism, criticism and cultural theory, explores cross-cultural issues and North/South relations. He is the recipient of an American Book Award for The New World Border and a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award, among many other honors. One of his other works, Codex Espangliensis, was also published by City Lights Publishers.