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642 - Visual Dialogues of Power in the Viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru

20.07.2012 | 08:00 - 13:30

Convener 1: Williams, Linda (University of Puget Sound Tacoma , Washington, Ud States of Am / USA)
Convener 2: Eloise Quiñones Keber 8 Baruch College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, New York, Ud States of Am / USA)

The cultural encounters that marked the Viceroyalties of New Spain, established in 1535,and Peru , established in 1542, were made visible in artistic works, from conventos and cathedrals to domestic residences, from large-scale to small. While the view that colonial art was a one-way expression of hegemonic European power has been vigorously contested over the past two decades, spurred especially by the Columbian Quincentennial, the question of the relative agency among stakeholders continues. Both Europeans and indigenous and mestizo peoples had an interest in the execution of commissions. The dialogue did, after all, take place on the home ground of the indigenous groups who oftentimes made and used the works. Artistic production thus represents one of the most visible forms of political and cultural power and persuasion.

In significant ways, the interplay between European and numerous native (e.g., Maya, Nahua, Otomi, Mixtec, Quechua, Aymara) traditions in the Americas gave visual expression to transformed ideas that built a new world different from its multiple sources. Transforming ideas through visual dialogue might be contingent upon place – for example, the resonances of a location’s previous use – or upon linguistic references made visible in decoration. Dialectics of power between patrons and artists, any of whom might seek to persuade overtly or subtly, inevitably emerged in the artworks.

Art created in viceregal New Spain and Peru embraces a multiplicity of artistic, cultural, and political meanings. This symposium therefore explores the issues of visual dialogue and visual power from a variety of methodological approaches, examining artworks and monuments as essential components of the historical trajectories of the vast, new territories. For example, art and history are inextricable; painting, architecture, sculpture, and other arts demonstrate the essential exchanges between a society’s different constituents as much as recorded events; and archaeological data provide the terra firma essential for the study of resulting works. Symposium papers will focus on those artworks of colonial New Spain and Peru that visually express the dialogue of ideas in the evolving new cultures.

Keywords: Art, New Spain, Peru

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