Critics’ Picks

Romeo Gómez López, ASTROPAPI, 2022, script, play, scenery, puppets, and video recording, dimensions variable.

Romeo Gómez López, ASTROPAPI, 2022, script, play, scenery, puppets, and video recording, dimensions variable.

Mexico City

Romeo Gómez López

Dr. Erazo 172 Col. Doctores
October 20–November 26, 2022

Romeo Gómez López’s bunraku-inspired, post-porn, gay puppet romance, ASTROPAPI, 2022, is set on a futuristic post-Mexican space station dedicated to the extraction of water from meteorites and—if one is to believe its toxically macho secondary character, Enrique—the occasional looting of gold. The first thing one notices is how good-looking the main puppet is, sporting the best eyebrows an Instagram model could ask for. He plays Jonathan, a “deconstructed” male worker recently employed by Astroplas, the intergalactic water company, prone to lines such as: “Once you recognize yourself as a penetrable body . . .”

The puppets in ASTROPAPI are lifelike even if miniaturized, and they are anatomically correct. Enrique, Jonathan’s aforementioned counterpart, wears his glass-domed pants backwards, his penis exposed the entire time. At times what is happening in the background is more intriguing than ASTROPAPI’s somewhat predictable, porn-like trickle of dialogue. The puppets inhabit a future in which Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s political myth of a “Fourth Transformation”—expanding democratic rights in the legacy of national struggles for Independence (1810–1821), Reform (1858–1861), and Revolution (1910–1917)—has been extended to include three more “Transformations”: the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Senate; the consequent consolidation of the theo-technocratic Guadalupan United States; and the creation of the Space Union. In this perhaps-not-so-absurd dystopian future, celebrity scion North West is the president of the United States, and YURI, a stand-in for Apple’s SIRI, charges you, the citizen-consumer, for food, water, beer, music, and everything else.

Although at times silly—a LED-strip semen gag comes to mind—ASTROPAPI’s critique lands because of its cunning sense of humor, which also helps it stand out amid the pervasive “theatrical” trend currently taking over Mexico City’s galleries, in which art objects are conscripted into service as props, set décor, or otherwise activating devices. With its lo-fi DIY aesthetic, ASTROPAPI simply refuses to take itself too seriously, letting the spectator revel in its pure, uncut goofiness.