Tag Archives: art

Kukuli Velarde–the empire looks back

Kukuli Velarde, Patron Santiago (Corpus Series), red clay low fire, underglazes, casein, gold leaf and wax, 84 h x 49 d x 26.5 w cm, 2013

Kukuli Velarde, Patron Santiago (Corpus Series), red clay low fire, underglazes, casein, gold leaf and wax, 84 h x 49 d x 26.5 w cm, 2013

Kukuli Velarde is a Peruvian-born artist whose work deconstructs the Spanish colonisation of Andean peoples. Here she writes about the southern agenda behind her work:

Like the majority of Peruvians, I am the product of the forced combination of the european and the indigenous worlds, which ultimately can be seen also as the forced combination of two aesthetics. CORPUS is an attempt to explore and develop a body of work that visually narrates Peruvian history through physical syncretism, combining pre-Columbian and Colonial sensibilities within the objects created, in order to document our paradoxical idiosyncrasies. CORPUS is also a search for a truer Peruvian aesthetic than just the one taught by the victor. Once we are able to artistically represent what historically we have experienced, then can we successfully join in the larger community of nations and contribute to the wealth of international aesthetics… The European aesthetics, which is the international aesthetics today, was formed in the image and likeness of their creators, maybe it’s time to reflect and reconsider whether we, Peruvians, shouldn’t place ourselves at the center of our likes and dislikes,  stopping being the dissonant ugly ones in the ‘movie’, the stone guests to a banquet to which we were not even invited.

Corpus rite in Cusco

Corpus rite in Cusco

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the city of Cusco had 350 Wakas, sacred places where representations of beneficial entities could be placed, linked to natural elements such as sun, water and corn. Colonisation involved the occupation of shrines, replacing many local gods with the one Jesus. The rite of Corpus has been held since 1572 when Viceroy Francisco Toledo received the order of the king of Spain to “fight” the Wakas of Cusco. This involves a procession of fifteen icons, representing religious figures such as Saint Sebastian and Santiago.

Velarde’s Corpus series reveals the indigenous figure harboured inside its official Christian mask. The pedestal is inspired in the actual platforms on which Santiago is carried in the Cusquenian Corpus. The form and designs of horse and man are drawn from Tiwanaku sculptures.

While exposing the hidden reality, the works also bring together the two worlds that house the mixed identity of someone like Velarde – ‘I am the product of the forced combination of the European and the indigenous worlds.’ Velarde’s work does not fit neatly into the essentialism of indigenismo, which seeks to de-colonise the Andean region, stripping away the traces of European colonisers. It is rather a carnivalesque play of cultures otherwise ordered hierarchically in order of whiteness. See her website for more examples of this prolific artist.

Decolonial Aesthetics out in Social Text

Decolonial AestheSis

Decolonial AestheSis

Walter Mignolo’s application of decolonial theory to art practice is discussed in a number of papers for the latest edition of Social Text.

“Decolonial aestheSis asks why Western aesthetic categories like ‘beauty’ or ‘representation’ have come to dominate all discussion of art and its value, and how those categories organise the way we think of ourselves and others: as white or black, high or low, strong or weak, good or evil. And decolonial art (or literature, architecture, and so on) enacts these critiques, using techniques like juxtaposition, parody, or simple disobedience to the rules of art and polite society, to expose the contradictions of coloniality. Its goal, then, is not to produce feelings of beauty or sublimity, but ones of sadness, indignation, repentance, hope, and determination to change things in the future.”

Globalisation from scratch–where is south?

French curator and writer Nicolas Bourriaud presents his concept of the altermodern as the 21st century ‘frontier’.

There are many who would contest the Western-centric view of modernism, yet do not subscribe to the idea that it has an ‘other side’ in the South. Nicolas Bourriaud, author of Relational Aesthetics, presents the idea of a ‘globalisation from scratch’, which is a flat symmetrical world where all peoples have equal access to the global electronic stage. Thus one of the critiques of a ‘southern perspective’ is that it is beholden to a cold-war mentality the divides the world neatly into west and ‘the rest’. Bourriaud presents a context that is not complicated that by this past and celebrates plurality.

So from a ‘southern perspective’, there are questions of such an approach. While celebrating plurality, its product as a curated exhibition is still concentric. This plurality is still inevitably concentrated in the art galleries of metropolitan centres.

And like its precursor ‘relational aesthetics’, altermodernity depends on an immanence that is liberated in free play. Such deferral of necessity and tradition is subject to the Bourdieu’s critique of aestheticisation in Distinction. It becomes a marker of class which has garnered the necessary surplus capital to rise above political squabbling over resources.

These are familiar criticisms of Bourriaud, but there is a danger that they position ‘southern perspectives’ as a voice of resentment, rather than an active site for engagement of ideas. At the least, there should be a possibility of dialectic between north and south, whereby each exposes the other’s limits. But for this to happen requires an acknowledgement that the world is divided, albeit messily.

Ilana Goldstein talks about what Brazil might learn from Australian Indigenous arts

Wauja woven mask

Wauja woven mask

Looking from outside, Australia has been extraordinarily successful in developing an Indigenous cultural industry. This is particularly evident in painting, but is also present in other areas – craft, dance, film and music.

The situation is different in many other countries of the South. The regional cultures of Africa, Pacific and Latin America are quite rich, but the role of Indigenous artists is more marginal than in Australia. There are extremely few Indigenous artists exhibiting their work in Brazil. There are no Mapuche professional dance troupes in Chile. There no school of Khoi-San desert painting in South Africa.

Does the experience of Indigenous arts in Australia have something to offer other countries of the South? And what might these other countries have to give in return? What would be the best means of setting up this kind of exchange? How might this exchange further develop Indigenous arts in Australia? How does a southern exchange differ from the profiling of Indigenous art in centres such as the Musée de Quai Branly in Paris?

The session will explore these questions with a visiting academic from São Paulo, Brazil – Ilana Goldstein. Goldstein is in Australia with the task of understanding how the Australian model might be applied to Indigenous communities in Brazil such as the Tupi. The session will take the form of a conversation about what Australia and Latin American countries might have to share in Indigenous cultures.

Talk by Ilana Goldstein, UNICAMP – Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil

Response by Philip Morrissey, Academic Coordinator of the Australia Indigenous Studies program at the University of Melbourne, will be a respondent.

Event details

Ilana Goldstein ‘From Papunya to Rio: the model of Australian Indigenous art across the South’
Wednesday 31 March 2010, 7:30-9:00pm
Institute of Postcolonial Studies
78-80 Curzon Street
North Melbourne (map)
Tel: 03 9329 6381
Admission – $5 for waged, $3 for unwaged, and free for members

Pacific Art in the 21st Century – Museums, New Global Communities And Future Trends



The Xth International Symposium of the Pacific Arts Association is pleased to call for papers on ‘Pacific Art in the 21st Century – Museums, New Global Communities And Future Trends.’

The symposium seeks to highlight issues surrounding the creation, dispersal, possession, repatriation, stewardship and interpretation of Pacific art in the 21st century

Focus of sessions
1. Objects from Central and Eastern Polynesia (the Cook Islands, Society Islands, Austral Islands, Gambier Islands, Marquesas Islands, Rapa Nui) in museums and private collections. Current research on 19th century and earlier works, including scientific testing.
2. Pacific Islanders’ views today on the relationship between objects and atua (spirit beings, deified ancestors, and `gods’).
3. Contemporary work by Pacific Islander artists, including Pasifika work coming out of urban centres; how artists influence changing perceptions and understandings of Pacific culture.
4. The emerging role of museum websites and other web entities dealing with Pacific art. “Virtual repatriation” – what is it? can it work?
5. Representing Pacific art and cultures. The role of libraries, archives, museums and other institutions in the Pacific in furthering the understanding of Pacific art and raising issues concerning the interpretation of Pacific art by institutions world-wide.
6. Artists panel
7. Open session

Key dates:

  • March 1, 2010: Submit Abstracts (250 words maximum)
  • April 15, 2010: Notification of Paper Acceptance
  • Conference – Rarotonga, Cook Islands August 9-11, 2010

To submit proposals, see website at cook2010.blogspot.com

CIHA Colloquium Second Call For Papers

South African Visual Arts Historians (SAVAH)

Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA)

Colloquium, organised by SAVAH under the aegis of CIHA, to take place at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 12 – 15 January 2011.

Other Views: Art History in (South) Africa and the Global South

CIHA has recently been addressing concerns about the unequal distribution of resources around the globe and challenges from post-colonial societies to the older methods and concepts of western art history. At the CIHA congress in Melbourne in January 2008, one of the key issues for discussion was the extent to which we need to re-think the discipline of the history of art “in order to establish cross-cultural dimensions as fundamental to its scope, method and vision”. SAVAH proposes continuing these discussions in the colloquium ‘Other Views: Art History in (South) Africa and the Global South’ to be held at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in January, 2011.

A principal focus of the discussions, with particular reference to South Africa, will be how the study of art from the African continent is often impeded by a totalising notion of an undifferentiated ‘Africa’. This belies the histories, political trajectories and regional differences of its many communities, nations and states. The focus offers opportunities to pose questions such as: What is the counter point to the homogeneous ‘African art’ label? How can art history in an African context challenge traditional western art history with regard to notions of authenticity, individuality, artistic processes, methods and theories? What are the discourses of indigenous people’s art practices, and what is the importance of early indigenous art for a history of art in South Africa and elsewhere? In what ways, and under what circumstances, can objects previously defined as ‘craft’ or ‘utilitarian’ be incorporated into the domain of ‘art’? How is ‘heritage’ understood, collected and displayed? What are the ideologies behind collecting, patronage and restitution, and the use of objects, buildings and spaces? How do we negotiate questions of identity and culture in an increasingly ‘global’ world? What do we choose to study and why? How do we teach that which we choose to study?

These questions have relevance in South Africa, Africa and the Global South. The Global South in this context is a cultural construct rather than a geographic term. It refers to communities and artistic production, throughout history and across nations, which, within the dominant narratives of western art, have been ignored, marginalised, displaced and appropriated. The Global South may include eastern bloc artists largely unknown to the west during the Cold War, items traditionally regarded as women’s work, First Nation peoples in Canada and indigenous people in South Africa, communities whose cultural artefacts were appropriated for the universal museum of the west, and people who have neither the power nor money to write their own art histories. We do not envision covering all aspects and areas of Africa and the Global South, but we shall use the Global South construct as a framework to focus on Africa and in particular South Africa. The aim is to complicate the history of art and the relationship between histories in the Global South and the ‘north’ or ‘west’.

We plan six plenary sessions over three days, with provision for graduate students to participate, possibly in parallel workshop and poster sessions. We invite proposals for papers that address any of the general rubrics outlined above. We will be accepting proposals for panels until the end of December 2009, and abstracts for individual papers until March 2010. Individual abstracts sent to the Organising Committee will be forwarded to the relevant panel convenor(s) to be considered for inclusion. Potential presenters will be informed of the outcome of their proposals by the beginning of June 2010.

Abstracts, up to 250 words in length, must be submitted in English, and must include the author’s institutional affiliation and relevant contact details. The final length of individual papers must not exceed 3,000 words, in order to fit into the strict 20 minute time limit per presentation.

Proposals should be sent to the Chairperson of SAVAH, Dr Federico Freschi at federico.freschi@wits.ac.za

SAVAH/CIHA Committee comprising Dr Federico Freschi (SAVAH Chairperson); Karen von Veh (SAVAH Past Chairperson ex officio); Dr Jillian Carman (SAVAH Vice-Chairperson)
July 2009

Art & the Kyoto Protocol

 How to make an art of the Kyoto Protocol

Talking about cultural collaboration today

The Kyoto Protocol involves a re-negotiation of the relation between rich and poor countries. What role do artists play in this new dialogue? How does engagement with the South shift from one-way cultural extraction to two-way collaboration? How does climate change alter the horizon of cultural intervention?

Please join Kevin Murray and contributors to the ‘After the Missionaries’ issue of Artlink, including Neil Fettling, Emily Potter, Helen Vivian and Kelly Fliedner as they discuss the changing ground for art in the world.

Thursday 27 August 7:30pm
Institute of Postcolonial Studies
78-80 Curzon Street North Melbourne
Facebook RSVP

Neil Fettling is an artist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Visual Arts and Design at La Trobe University, Mildura campus. He participated in a residency at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines in 2006/2007.

Kelly Fliedner is Program Coordinator of live arts organization Punctum, based in Castlemaine, is a member of the Program Committee at West Space and recently become Magazine Coordinator of un Magazine based in Melbourne

Emily Potter is a Research Fellow in the School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University

Helen Vivian is an independent writer, editor and curator. Her most recent book is ‘When You Think About Art: The Ewing and George Paton Collections 1971-2008’ Macmillan Art Publishing, Melbourne, 2008

Kevin Murray is Adjunct Professor of RMIT University, Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Adjunct Research Fellow at Monash University

After the Missionaries

Please note the following events related to ‘After the Missionaries’ issue of Artlink.

FORUM Has the world changed?

  • Has the Kyoto Protocol changed how rich and poor countries relate to each other?
  • Is Australia moving away from the Anglosphere?
  • Is the Global Financial Crisis a time to look at alternative economic models?
  • Is ethical the new black?
  • Have artists changed in how they related to the world around them?

You are invited to join a discussion in real time with live people in the same space. These people will include contributors to the ‘After the Missionaries’ issue of Artlink. With luck, there will also be some copies, hot of the press.

TIME: 6.00 -8.00 pm Wednesday 10 June
PLACE: Domain House, Birdwood Drive, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
For more information, click here. To submit a question, email here.

This conversation is in association with the exhibition Journey to the Surface of the Earth (22 May – 16 June) featuring Tony Adams, Caroline Banks, Jasmine Cairns, Chaco Cato, Domenico de Clario, Daniel Gustav Cramer, Carla Dinale, Sarah Farquharson, Dean Glanville, Alice Hardie-Grant, Chiho Hasegawa, Madeline Hook, Elliot Howard, Ash Keating, Courtney Lubrooke, Alya Manzart, Dylan Martorell, Charissa Maria, Katarina Matic, Darren Munce, Jacinta Murphy, Lindsay Parkhowell, Roberta Nelson, Anna Noonan, Elizabeth Presa, Joel Ralston, Annie Sumner, Joseph Scott, Lisa Wilson. This exhibition forms the outcome of an inter-disciplinary seminar at the Centre for Ideas (Southbank) taught by Elizabeth Presa and Elliot Howard. This event itself occurs in the context of Evolution – the Festival and the Amnesty of Ideas program of Southern Perspectives.

LAUNCH After the Missionaries issue of Artlink

The ‘After the Missionaries’ issue of Artlink will be formally launched at Craft Victoria, Saturday 20 June 4pm, by Dr Connie Zheng, senior lecturer in management at RMIT and expert in how Chinese do business. This will be preceded by a forum on working with traditional artisans (for more details, see here).

THEREAFTER ‘After the Missionaries’

There will be an opportunity to reflect on the questions raised by After the Missionaries at the Institute of Postcolonial Studies (early September, date to be advised).

Copies of Artlink will be on sale from 15 June.