The “Latino explosion” that coincided a few years back with the popularity of Ricky Martin’s hips and Jennifer Lopez’s ass has long since crossed the entertainment frontier into the political arena (with the likes of Bush courting the growing demographic) and the advertising world, as more companies vie for product loyalty from these sexy, fun-loving folks. According to the 2000 census, the community, which is clumped together on the basis of a common language, has grown by 58 percent in the last 10 years. Since this grouping is based on assumed cultural similarities, Latinos will have to tackle issues of identity if they want to assert themselves as they continue to expand. Exit Art explores just that in “L-Factor,” a multimedia exhibition in which 31 artists from the United States have created conceptual portraits of Latino icons (from Oscar de la Hoya to Frida Kahlo) that have influenced American culture. A series of panels on Thursday will give critics like Ed Morales (Living in Spanglish: The Search for Latino Identity in America) and Raquel Rivera (New York Ricans From the Hip Hop Zone) the opportunity to examine questions like “What’s Latin about rock and hip-hop?” and “What’s Latino got to do with it?” The day before, authors Ernesto Quiñonez and Edgardo Vega Yunqué read from the bittersweet new Chango’s Fire and the sweeping No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew It Cauze Bill Bailey Ain’t Never Coming Home Again, respectively. Music performances and film screenings are scheduled into February. Come out and get to know your neighbors—’cause sooner than later you won’t have a choice.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 6, 2004