Images of Adversity and Resistance in the Americas
This programme of work by three artists from Latin America investigates indigenous peoples, ways of life and thought, how they continue to live in the present day, and the relation between indigenous cultures, modernity and modernism in the Americas.
Through the works selected it explores the conflicts between indigenous cultures and those that were imposed during colonialism, and how these conditions of adversity were perpetuated after independence and through modernity, and modernism. At the same time, it also demonstrates how indigenous culture has resisted and persisted, and how it offers alternative paradigms for culture and for living to those that originated in Europe.
The programme begins with Sandra Gamarra’s works, which return to examine the ways in which indigenous culture was regarded, utilised and denigrated in the context of early twentieth century avant-garde modernism. Her works suggest that in the era of the formation of national identity, when symbols of indigenous culture were used to assert independence from European colonialism, they were also subjected to assumptions that are evidently racist and which underpinned the modern project. Cecilia Vicuña explores the complexity of the indigenous imagination and world-view by aiming to recuperate its lost artistic, poetic and spiritual landscape. Her film focuses on a single textile, the pinnacle of artistic achievement in the creative hierarchy of Andean cultures and makes a poetic decoding of this complex artwork, recuperating a rich and alternate imaginary in the process. Edgardo Aragon’s film proposes a different temporality and experience of the landscape. While it suggests an almost lost past through a history of colonial intervention that near-obliterated both a natural world and another cultural reality, it also offers hope, even if faint, in the efforts to recuperate and restore it. Its message manifested in images of survival against the elements.
These three artists, from different generations and locations, present an image of the different experiences of violence, adversity and erasure that have faced indigenous peoples across the Americas. Nevertheless, they also manifest the complexity of the cultures and offer a poetic declaration of indigenous resistance.