Colin Gunckel is a historian of Latina/o media and art and Latin American cinema. His research on cinema mobilizes approaches from exhibition and reception studies to propose that the concept of national cinema be understood as fundamentally transnational and intermedial. His forthcoming monograph consequently considers Mexican film culture in early 20th century Los Angeles as a phenomenon that encompassed and intersected with a range of media and texts beyond actual films: the Spanish language press, exhibition practice, theater publicity, variety theater, novels, star personas and conceptions of urban space. By opening his analysis to this diverse range of texts, he also proposes a methodology that can be used to shed new light upon the history of Latina/o (self) representations, not to mention those of other marginalized groups.
His scholarship on Chicano art includes work on cultural center Self Help Graphics and Art, the artist collective Asco, photographer Oscar Castillo and early punk from East L.A. In every case, Gunckel engages archival and primary sources to rethink both historical narratives of Chicano cultural production and the textual analysis thereof. In the case of East L.A. punk between 1979 and 1984, for instance, he has productively interrogated the basis of the category itself through analysis of archival material and interviews with participants. In doing so, he demonstrates how the idea of “East L.A. punk” elides important distinctions within the scene,makes assumptions about geography and ethnicity, and obscures the relationship of Chicano punk to the broader histories of art and music in Los Angeles.
Gunckel is currently working on a project that considers the concept of the “Chicano photographic.” This project firstly examines the undervalued role of photography within the early Chicano movement and the publications that emerged in conjunction with it. Just as significantly, however, he argues that the use of photography as a medium and a concept informed a range of other media including cinema and muralism. He thus deploys the broader category of the“Chicano photographic” to uncover overlooked formal dimensions of Chicano art, its participatory dimensions and the innovative nature of its circulation. As such, this project challenges the conventional modes of analysis applied to political art, while also reevaluating the relationship of Chicano art to the history of art in the United States.
Recent Courses Taught
AC 498: Latino/Chicano Art and Visual Culture
SAC 441/AC 405: Mexican Cinema
SAC 352: Film History, 1930-1952
AC 335: Art and Culture in American Life