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, Victor Zamudio-Taylor explores the valorization of Mexico’s pre-Columbian roots as a key element in the development of cultural identity within the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Inspired by the ideology of mexicanidad—which highlighted the role of indigenous cultures in the making of the Mexican nation—the Chicano movement utilized pre-Columbian heritage for the purpose of constructing a sense of identity and place. Zamudio-Taylor discusses the relationship between Chicano art and pre-Columbian culture within a framework of issues of Modern art and non-Western cultures. He follows this with a discussion of the strong links between pre-Columbian imagery and Modern art, specifically Mexican muralism, whose influence can be seen in the later production of Chicano muralists and artist collectives. Zamudio-Taylor outlines the different uses of pre-Columbian references in the first and second periods of Chicano art, and categorizes the current state of Chicano art as post-Chicano/a—which he views as still concerned with specific cultural narratives, such as indigenous heritage, but differentiated by a multiplicity of contexts and discourses.
Zamudio-Taylor’s essay was included in the catalog for the blockbuster organized in 2001 by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and titled The Road to Aztlan: Art from a Mythic Homeland, which traced the art of pre-Columbian Mexico and the U.S. Southwest over the course of the pre-Columbian, colonial, and contemporary eras. Focusing on the impact of ancient art and mythology from Mexico and its link with the concept of Aztlan, the author not only sheds new light on the deep and far-reaching influences—specifically on Chicano artists—but also the larger issues of primitivism in relation to Modern art. Indeed, it highlights the exclusion of ancient American cultures from “primitivist” studies. Especially informative are his concluding remarks regarding “post-Chicano/a” art, including the irony of how the critical impulse that came with modernity is revived, this time however to look for diverse sources of knowledge and artistic practices.