This is entry #74 in our ongoing 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.
Philosopher: Nils-Hennes Stear (University of Auburn)
Artwork: ‘Hasta Que Te Conocí’, Juan Gabriel (1990) Live Performance, 9m22s, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Words: Juan Gabriel died the day I landed in Mexico, not 50 miles from where I had taken off. Though I’d never heard of him, a mourning nation soon educated me. “Juanga”, it seemed, was a supernova, a kind of Latin Pop Liberace-cum-David-Bowie exalted by critics and public alike. His performance of ‘Hasta Que Te Conocí’ at the Palacio de Bellas Artes—from the plaintive cries to the repeating procession of tango trumpets to the drums bursting in to begin the finale—is spine-tingling. How many Juangas around the world are veiled from us, I often wonder, by our cultural parochialism?