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  • Training for Exhaustion (2015)
  • Xandra Ibarra (bio)

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In this iteration of Training for Exhaustion, performance artist Xandra Ibarra took on the guise of a hypnotist and training instructor and led sixteen strangers on a performance jog through Lake Merritt in Oakland, California.1 Ibarra prepared the group to take on the corporeality of a cockroach before launching into the run to make the group amenable to states of heightened intersubjectivity. To prepare, the participants were instructed to don face visors, referred to as “cucaracha lenses,” grow exoskeletons via hypnosis, and learn a series of movements to assist with proper running technique. As they ran, the unit (or intrusion), listened to a combination of music tracks interspersed with scientific facts [End Page 77] about cockroaches; their goal was to build stamina to be sick and tired of being sick and tired. Training for Exhaustion considers fatigue, as opposed to refusal and/or liberation, as a primary mode of being in our current moment, while reflecting on the enduring qualities of cockroaches—including intelligence, molting, evasiveness, breeding, durability, mutation, and speed—as a model to become a racialized species form.

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Xandra Ibarra

Xandra Ibarra is an Oakland-based performance artist from the El Paso/Juarez border who performs and works under the alias of La Chica Boom. Ibarra uses hyperbolized modes of racialization and sexualization to test the boundaries between her own body and coloniality, compulsory whiteness, and Mexicanidad. Her practice integrates performance, sex acts, and burlesque with video, photography, and objects. Throughout her multiple works, she teeters between abjection and joy and problematizes the borders between proper and improper racial, gender, and queer subject.

Ibarra’s work has been featured at El Museo de Arte Contemporañeo (Bogotá, Colombia), Broad Museum (LA, USA), Popa Gallery (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Joe’s Pub (NYC), PPOW Gallery (NYC), and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (SF) to name a few. Recent residencies include Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, National Performance Network and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. She has been awarded the Art Matters Grant, NALAC Fund for the Arts, ReGen Artist Fund and the Franklin Furnace Performance and Variable Media Award.

As a community organizer, Ibarra’s work is located within immigrant, anti-rape and prison abolitionist movements. Since 2003, she has actively participated in organizing with INCITE!, a national feminist of color organization dedicated to creating interventions at the intersection of state and interpersonal violence. Ibarra is a visiting lecturer within the Critical Studies program at California College of the Arts.


1. This work was part of an experimental art and performance series that combined absurd workouts with theory entitled Heavy Breathing, created by Sophia Wang and Lisa Rybovich. [End Page 78]



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