Special Issue "Decolonizing Contemporary Latin American Art"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Visual Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (26 July 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Florencia San Martin
Website
Guest Editor
Lecturer, The School of Visual Arts, New York, NY 10010, USA
Interests: contemporary art; Latin American art; history of photography; decolonial thought; memory studies
Dr. Tatiana Flores
Website
Guest Editor
Associate Professor, Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies with a joint appointment in Art History, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA
Interests: Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean art; contemporary art; curatorial practice; art historiography

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In 2013, writing for TRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World, Puerto Rican sociologist Ramon Grosfoguel noted that in the late 1990s, Latin Americanist scholars recurrently adopted an Area Studies' approach. "With a few exceptions," Grosfoguel writes, "they produced studies about the subaltern rather than studies with and from a subaltern perspective." This means that until the turn of this century, prominence was given to either a Western epistemic location through the adoption of Marxism and deconstruction as methodologies, or to postcolonial theory, where power relations are inverted yet the Cartesian dualism remains intact. While this has not disappeared, in the last decades, Grosfoguel and other scholars advocating decoloniality have significantly contributed to Latin American debates through scholarship that critiques Euro-American centric epistemologies and Third World fundamentalism. In the words of Nelson Maldonado-Torres, "the decolonial turn involves the de-investment from modern forms of validation and a commitment to forging values, practices, and forms of relation with others that can bring about a different order." Delving into the complexities of Latin America through the region's own histories of colonialization and cultural frameworks, decoloniality acknowledges that South-to-South artistic practices and thinking have existed in the Americas since the Conquest. It further claims that a significant shift regarding its current understanding as an unfinished, ongoing project occurred in the mid 20th century, with the work of Caribbean intellectuals and activists such as Aimé Césaire, Édouard Glissant, and Frantz Fanon.

As the field of contemporary Latin American art has expanded in academia, museum collections, curatorial practice, and the art market since the 1990s, what is still under- or misrepresented are precisely South-to-South forms of thinking. Urgent attention is needed in historicizing, analyzing, and disseminating hemispheric Latin American art. "Latin" America here is recognized as a cultural construct that includes the Caribbean, diasporic communities around the world, and the Latinx cultures of the United States. Geopolitically, scholarship on contemporary art has focused on work by artists from elite backgrounds, especially Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. Less consideration has been paid to issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Art from Central America; the Andes; the Anglophone, Dutch, Francophone, and Hispanophone Caribbean (apart from Cuba); and Latinx diasporas worldwide is still overlooked or approached from Eurocentric frameworks that do not favor it. In turn, aesthetic discourse has privileged postwar Euro-American ideas on modernism and postmodernism and sought to integrate certain kinds of Latin American cultural production into a universalist modern or postmodern canon. These discourses have failed to challenge the conceptual origins of these canons, reproducing and expanding them across cultures and geographies and thereby reinforcing modernism's claim to universality. Paradoxically, in the last five years, the word "decoloniality" has also grown in the field and in the discipline of art history at large, occupying titles in publications, academic panels, and exhibitions. And yet, as Grosfoguel reminds us: "The fact that one is socially located in the oppressed side of power relations does not automatically mean that he/she is epistemically thinking from a subaltern epistemic location."

This Special Issue of Arts welcome articles on Latin American, Latinx, Caribbean, and diasporic contemporary art and historiography that is delinked to or critical of Western epistemic locations and/or to inverted paradigms of power. We invite contributors to submit their research for consideration in English. Submissions will be blind reviewed.

Dr. Florencia San Martin
Dr. Tatiana Flores
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • decoloniality
  • Hemispheric Americas
  • Latin America
  • aesthetics
  • indigenism
  • South-to-South
  • networks of exchange
  • epistemic locations
  • solidarity frameworks
  • Central America
  • the Andes
  • Caribbean
  • Latinx studies
  • exhibition practice
  • representation

Published Papers (7 papers)

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From the Memory Books of Josely Carvalho
Arts 2019, 8(3), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030109 - 28 Aug 2019
Abstract
In this interview, Brazilian-born multi-media artist Josely Carvalho (b. 1942) reflects back on her art making practice in the 1980s. Among the subjects that she addresses are her bi-nationalism, her use of the silkscreen process, and her association with the 1984 activist campaign [...] Read more.
In this interview, Brazilian-born multi-media artist Josely Carvalho (b. 1942) reflects back on her art making practice in the 1980s. Among the subjects that she addresses are her bi-nationalism, her use of the silkscreen process, and her association with the 1984 activist campaign Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America. She also speaks about working as a Latin American artist in New York City during this period, as well as her involvement with galleries and arts organizations such as St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, Central Hall Cooperative Gallery, and Franklin Furnace. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decolonizing Contemporary Latin American Art)
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Open AccessArticle
Asserting the Vernacular: Contested Musealities and Contemporary Art in Lima, Peru
Arts 2020, 9(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010017 - 07 Feb 2020
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decolonizing Contemporary Latin American Art)
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Open AccessArticle
Weaving Forms of Resistance: The Museo de la Solidaridad and The Museo Internacional de la Resistencia Salvador Allende
Arts 2020, 9(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010012 - 21 Jan 2020
Abstract
From the starting point of a 1975 artwork made by Norwegian artist Kjartan Slettemark in Sweden to stop a tennis match in resistance to the Chilean military dictatorship, this article reframes the linear image of networks of solidarity and resistance through the gaps [...] Read more.
From the starting point of a 1975 artwork made by Norwegian artist Kjartan Slettemark in Sweden to stop a tennis match in resistance to the Chilean military dictatorship, this article reframes the linear image of networks of solidarity and resistance through the gaps and connectivity of a mesh. It expands the figure of the mesh taken from critical materialism into the affective realm of art, historiography, and art institutions by exploring the cases of the museums Museo de la Solidaridad (1971–1974) and Museo Internacional de la Resistencia “Salvador Allende” (1975–1990). As this article delves into various knots and lacunas of the meshes of solidarity and resistance partaking in these museums, and analyzing the relations they wove, it also aims to reflect on the capacity of resilience of arpilleras, as well as on the generative possibilities of the incomplete labor of art history and its ethical and political responsibilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decolonizing Contemporary Latin American Art)
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Manuel Amaru Cholango: Decolonizing Technologies and the Construction of Indigenous Futures
Arts 2019, 8(4), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040163 - 07 Dec 2019
Abstract
Recent art history studies have delved into notions of futurity as it relates to indigenous approaches to environmental destruction in the face of ongoing colonial oppression. Building on the concept of indigenous futures, the present investigation focuses on the Kichwa artist Manuel Amaru [...] Read more.
Recent art history studies have delved into notions of futurity as it relates to indigenous approaches to environmental destruction in the face of ongoing colonial oppression. Building on the concept of indigenous futures, the present investigation focuses on the Kichwa artist Manuel Amaru Cholango’s decolonial critique of technology. Since the 1990s and in response to the quincentennial celebration of the “discovery” of America in 1992, Cholango has developed an oeuvre that criticizes the instrumentalization of modern technology for the exploitation of the earth and the perpetuation of colonialism. By advancing the notion of Andean technology, Cholango brings to bear other ways of relating to the environment that can help create, once again, the possibility of the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decolonizing Contemporary Latin American Art)
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Corporeal Identities, Maternal Artivism: A New Decolonial Approach to the Study of Latin American Women Artists
Arts 2019, 8(4), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040137 - 18 Oct 2019
Abstract
Stemming from Grosfoguel’s decolonial discourse, and particularly his enquiry on how to steer away from the alternative between Eurocentric universalism and third world fundamentalism in the production of knowledge, this article aims to respond to this query in relation to the field of [...] Read more.
Stemming from Grosfoguel’s decolonial discourse, and particularly his enquiry on how to steer away from the alternative between Eurocentric universalism and third world fundamentalism in the production of knowledge, this article aims to respond to this query in relation to the field of the art produced by Latin American women artists in the past four decades. It does so by investigating the decolonial approach advanced by third world feminism (particularly scholar Chandra Talpade Mohanty) and by rescuing it from—what I reckon to be—a methodological impasse. It proposes to resolve such an issue by reclaiming transnational feminism as a way out from what I see as a fundamentalist and essentialist tactic. Following from a theoretically and methodological introduction, this essay analyzes the practice of Cuban-born artist Marta María Pérez Bravo, specifically looking at the photographic series Para Concebir (1985–1986); it proposes a decolonial reading of her work, which merges third world feminism’s nation-based approach with a transnational outlook, hence giving justice to the migration of goods, ideas, and people that Ella Shohat sees as deeply characterizing the contemporary cultural background. Finally, this article claims that Pérez Bravo’s oeuvre offers the visual articulation of a decolonial strategy, concurrently combining global with local concerns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decolonizing Contemporary Latin American Art)
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Open AccessArticle
Brazilian Art and the Dilemma of Globalization: Strategies of Internationalization and Cultural Affirmation in Two 1990s Biennials
Arts 2019, 8(4), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040136 - 18 Oct 2019
Abstract
This paper will address specifically the 24th edition of the São Paulo Biennial (1998), which took up Oswald de Andrade’s concept of anthropophagy as a guiding axis, but it will also bring to light the first edition of the Mercosul Biennial, which was [...] Read more.
This paper will address specifically the 24th edition of the São Paulo Biennial (1998), which took up Oswald de Andrade’s concept of anthropophagy as a guiding axis, but it will also bring to light the first edition of the Mercosul Biennial, which was held in 1997 in the city of Porto Alegre, situated in the south of Brazil, with the intention of establishing itself as a space for promotion of Latin American art. Both biennials are private entities, supported by autonomous foundations, but which require public funds to carry out their shows. It is noteworthy that those two shows were held a few years after the third edition of the Havana Biennial, which is widely recognized as a landmark in the history of the biennials based on South–South dialogue. I will point out the connections between the proposals of these exhibitions as well as relate them to the Brazilian economic situation at the time and the dilemma of globalization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decolonizing Contemporary Latin American Art)
Open AccessArticle
The Persistence of Primitivism: Equivocation in Ernesto Neto’s A Sacred Place and Critical Practice
Arts 2019, 8(3), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030111 - 29 Aug 2019
Abstract
During the 2017 Venice Biennale, the area dubbed the “Pavilion of the Shamans” opened with A Sacred Place, an immersive environmental work created by the Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto in collaboration with the Huni Kuin, a native people of the Amazon rainforest. [...] Read more.
During the 2017 Venice Biennale, the area dubbed the “Pavilion of the Shamans” opened with A Sacred Place, an immersive environmental work created by the Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto in collaboration with the Huni Kuin, a native people of the Amazon rainforest. Despite the co-authorship of the installation, the artwork was dismissed by art critics as engaging in primitivism and colonialism. Borrowing anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s concept of equivocation, this article examines the incorporation of both indigenous and contemporary art practices in A Sacred Place. The text ultimately argues that a more equivocal, open interpretation of the work could lead to a better understanding of the work and a more self-reflexive global art history that can look at and learn from at its own comparative limitations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decolonizing Contemporary Latin American Art)
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