This essay examines three museums of contemporary art in Lima, Peru: MAC (Museum of Contemporary Art), MALI (Lima Art Museum), and MASM (San Marcos Art Museum). As framed through curatorial studies and cultural politics, we argue that the curatorial practices of these institutions are embedded with tensions linked to the negotiation of regional, national, and international identities, coloniality, and alternate modernities between Western paradigms of contemporary art and contemporary vernacular art in Peru. Peruvian national institutions have not engaged in the collection of contemporary art, leaving these practices to private entities such as the MAC, MALI, and MASM. However, these three institutions have not, until recently, actively collected contemporary vernacular Peruvian art and its by-products, thus inscribing this work as “non-Western” through curatorial practices and creating competing conceptions of the contemporary. The curatorial practices of the MAC, MALI, and MASM reflect the complex and contested musealities and conceptions of the contemporary that co-exist in Lima. This essay will address this environment and the emergence of alternative forms of museality, curatorial practices, and indigenous artist’s strategies that continually construct and disrupt different modernities and create spaces for questioning constructs of contemporary art and Peruvian cultural identities.
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