Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    Synopsis

    In this essay, Cuban scholar and art critic Gerardo Mosquera delves into a discussion of Latin American art circulation and reception and its relationship to binaries such as the North vs. South, First World vs. Third World, and high art vs. low art. Alluding to the history of Brazilian modernism, Mosquera discusses how the antropofagia movement opens up a way of conceiving resistance to the mostly Western hegemonic structures of art production and circulation. Throughout the article, he problematizes the notion of mezcla and mestizaje, as it pertains to Latin American artistic production, because “one of the problems with notions based on synthesis is that they blur the imbalances and tend to erase the conflicts” that may be present instead in the iteration of difference. Ultimately, Mosquera argues against the artistic exclusion of products that are “undervalorized from their significant poetics simply because they do not respond to legitimized codes at the international level.”

    Annotations

    This text highlights the trajectory of intellectual movements and theorists that have served to resist an overly European gaze towards artistic production. Mosquera cites cultural theorists such as Homi Bhabha (b. 1949), Fernando Ortiz (1881–1969), Gayatri Spivak (b. 1942), Ángel Rama (1926–83), and Néstor García Canclini (b. 1939), all of whom theorize issues of transculturation, syncretism, and assimilation. Mosquera specifically references Canclini when noting that the concept of hybridization “is not a synonym of fusion without contradictions, but instead can help to expose particular conflicts generated by the intercultural movement of late, in the midst of the decay of national modernization projects in Latin America.” This text ultimately rejects the over-simplification of benefits of heterogeneity of Latin American artistic production, and instead, it points to the issues that continue to arise when considering the relationship between Latin American art in relationship to the rest of the world.

    A previous version of this essay comes from the exhibition catalog that came from the show “Otro arte en Ecuador” [accessible through the ICAA digital archive “De la ‘antropofagia’ al ‘desde aquí’” (doc. no. 1278423)] and this particular version is part of a collective investigation, edited by Néstor García Canclini.

    Néstor García Canclini (b. 1939) is an Argentine anthropologist, academic, and intellectual who coined the theory of “hybridity” that has come to shape much of Latin American studies. He works at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (México D.F.), serves on the Editorial Collective of the academic journal Public Culture, and his book Hybrid Cultures was awarded the first Ibero-American Book Award for the best book about Latin America.

    Gerardo Mosquera (b. 1945) is a Cuban curator, critic, and art historian whose work explores debates about art circulation and production in a globalized world. One of the original organizers of the first Havana Biennial in 1984, he also served as adjunct curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art from 1995 to 2009. He has published widely on modern and contemporary Latin American art and organized major museum exhibitions on topics, including Crisisss Latin America, Art and Confrontation, 1910–2010 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes and ExTeresa Arte Actual, Mexico City in 2011, and ¡Afuera! Arte en espacios públicos in Córdoba, Argentina in 2010.