Studio Lenca 


Jose Campos

Born 1986  La Paz, El Salvador Lives London, UK


MA Arts & Learning 2019
Goldsmiths University of London

Art & Design PGCE 2015
Goldsmiths University of London

MA Contemporary Dance 2012
London Contemporary Dance School

As a queer member of the Latinx diaspora , my work is focused on ideas surrounding difference, knowledge and visibility. I work with performance, video, drawing and object making. My work often starts through personal memories, creative activism or underpinned by different forms of praxis. I work under the name of ‘Studio Lenca’ as the language of ‘studio’ refers to a space for experimentation and a place that is constantly shifting. Lenca refers to my ancestors of my native El Salvador.

I was born in La Paz, El Salvador and like many had to flee the country during its violent civil war during the late 1980’s. I grew up in San Francisco, California as a queer minority in the gaze of a strictly conservative administration as an undocumented ‘illegal alien’. Ultimately, I found refuge in the UK and became a British Citizen in 2007. This experience of being uprooted serves as a framework for my ideas to be read by others as themes of identity, belonging and oppression are universal. 

My recent photographic performance work ‘Los Historiantes’(2019) looks at the folkloric dancers of El Salvador. This is an ongoing project in which I create portraits of myself dressed as a Historiante. Los Historiantes are a result of traditions brought over by the Iberian conquistadors during the colonisation of the Americas mixed with pre-Columbian beliefs. The Historiantes offer me an embodied archive of trauma that is still relevant today. When building these costumes, the collection of materials becomes difficult and I often need to borrow from different cultures with similar histories, this process becomes the performance. The inability to access authentic materials for the costumes highlights my distance from the place I was born in as well as my lack of connection with Salvadoran culture due to being uprooted by war. I believe the trajectory Salvadoran people and many Central American nations have taken stem back to ancient histories, specifically the colonisation of the Americas by European colonisers. This postcolonial intergenerational trauma is present to this day and can be seen in public discourse of Latinx communities, especially in the U.S.

In my performance installation ‘Doing and Undoing’ ( 2019 ) at Goldsmiths University I presented a collection of Papier Mache pots I created in my studio over six months. The forms were inspired by the pottery of the Lenca civilization. The materials were crucial in the work as the paper and the construction of the forms rendered them useless as objects. I asked the audience to destroy the work by crushing the pots and using the remains to create their own objects, subsequently ridding of the Lenca reference. I wanted to make the point that it is not in the final outcome that we learn but in the process. The act of destroying the pots was an act of collective undoing in which the materials informed learning. The outcome became unimportant and the not knowing became pedagogical. I wanted to send the message of things never ending, learning never ending.
El Salvador - England