Artists Art Issues Exhibitions About Us Search

Art & Theory
Questions on place and space in Latin American Art
by Maria Clara Bernal Bermudez

Bookmark and Share

Johanna Calles

Brigida Baltar

Nelson Leirner

Maria Elvira Escallon

Sebastian Diaz Morales

Francis Alÿs

For theorist as well as historians of art the vanishing of the fixed parameters used to "read" Latin American art represented and represents still a big challenge. The transition from a physical, geographical space to virtual space makes every culture into a border culture. One that is, in the words of Glissant, "in constant Change through the exchange". An indeterminate space that is in constant transition, mined camps as Coco Fusco described it, mobile territories of confrontation and contrast.

Every generation reinvents itself and in this sense what we can see is that within the journey into globalisation art proposes a paradigm to survive homogenisation as well as complete fragmentation and isolation and that is the strategy of negotiation of space and place.

The fact that the notion of roots that defined the relation to space of Latin-American art for many years is now shifting into routes as the space that we now inhabit does not mean that any of them disappears. On the contrary, it is the combination of both concepts that makes art in Latin America so interesting to follow. It is the search to find the "roots to routes". The challenge is to find the way to freeze momentarily the constant transformation of space.

After all this the question remains: how to classify after essentialism? What labels to use if territory based labels are no good anymore? How to take Flusserí­s ideas into account and not to see the leaving of the usual territory as a danger but to see it in its full potentiality? Maybe the only way to make reference to what we call Latin American Art is by the impossibility of naming it. It has been proven to us that as much as history and theory has tried to capture it, every time history gives it a name Latin American art takes another route to surprise us. It is our challenge to follow arts transformations and be ready to transform our ways to name following its pace.

(1) Alfons Hug curatorial statement for the 26 Sao Paulo Biennial in
(2) Vilem Flusser, Exile and Creativity
(3) Gerardo Mosquera, Good-Bye identity, Welcome Difference: From Latin American Art to Art From Latin America, Third text 56 Autumn 2001, p.25-32
(4) ibid.
This paper was originally read in the symposium "Four directions" in the University of Essex, England, April 2005.

5 of 5 pages     previous page

About the Author
Maria Clara Bernal Bermudez is an Associate Professor at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

back to issues