The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this essay, Karen Mary Davalos addresses the complex dynamic between Chicano art collectors and the objects in their collections as a relationship of “othering” by the “Other.” She suggests that the experience of the Chicano is one of possessing a “third eye”—a term she borrows from the African-American thinker, W. E. B. Dubois—with which one recognizes one’s own objectification. Davalos argues that Chicano art collecting can only occur when the Chicano collector closes his/her “third eye.” She then considers that the history of the public art museum has been constructed under the heading of “The West,” and that of the natural history museum under “The Rest,” implying that all non-Western cultures and societies fall outside the realm of civilization and therefore are controlled and categorized by the Western, civilized collector by way of an ongoing process of “othering.” Davalos discusses the location of Chicanos within “The Rest” and the impact this has had on the perceptions and practices of collecting both within and outside the community, given the very ambiguous relationships of the collectors to the objects in their possession.
Karen Mary Davalos is a professor of Chicana/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Though a cultural anthropologist by training, she has written extensively on Chicana/o visual arts. This essay was written for a catalogue published in conjunction with the exhibition East of the River: Chicano Art Collectors Anonymous, held at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 2000. This important, groundbreaking exhibition focused on a neglected facet of the art world—Chicano collectors and their collections, as exemplified by Los Angeles’s Chicano Art Collectors Anonymous (CACA). In her essay, she makes a strong case that Chicano art collecting duplicates and confounds a history of collecting that is intertwined with various forms of domination—namely, colonialism, racism, capitalism, appropriation, etc.—to which Chicanos themselves have long been subjected.