Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    Synopsis

    In this article, Antenor Orrego proposes that Mexico and Argentina represent the two extremes of how Latin America should negotiate its relationship with Europe. Mexico, on the one hand, has totally rejected European culture. As Orrego explains, Mexico is incomprehensible to Europe and the forms of European culture that exist there have disintegrated or been demolished by the Revolution. Argentina, on the other hand, has successfully absorbed European culture, and as a result, Europe is able to easily comprehend it. In other words, he explains, that Mexico is shut off from Europe, while Argentina is open to it. These two positions regarding Europe have been encompassed in the new American “spirit,” and are the “core” of what he calls in overstating terms a new “superlative race.” Orrego argues that the threatening presence of the United States should motivate Latin Americans to organize themselves and duly pursue their fate as an Indo-American people. He concludes that this stage of formation is marked most significantly by “the Mexicanization and Argentinization of America.”

    Annotations

    The Peruvian writer and philosopher Antenor Orrego (1892-1960) wrote this text for Amauta in 1928. Published in Lima and edited by the critic José Carlos Mariátegui (1894-1930), Amauta was a vital forum for debating the problem of nationalism in American art and culture during the 1920s. In this text, Orrego argues that Mexico and Argentina’s contrasting relationships with European culture--Mexico has rejected it, which is incomprehensible to Europe, and Argentina has embraced it, which is completely understandable to Europe—should constitute a model for the nascent new Indo-American culture that is in the process of formation. In his theory, these two countries located at the extreme North and South of Latin America should be understood as cultural influencers far outside the borders of their own nations. In this spirit, Orrego characterizes the Mexican Revolution as a Pan-American event. He also notes how the cultural development of Mexico and Argentina reversed the flow of influence so that it is now the periphery that influences the center.