3859 - The invention of a medieval present: Visual stagings in colonial Bolivia and Brazil

The paper intends to analyze in a comparative approach different time concepts in colonial contexts and their functions in visual stagings and displays. To avoid essentialisms, time should be understood as a culturally determined constructed concept. The research will contribute to the major question about functions and structures of different representational systems. The visual examples, mainly paintings which represent variations of medieval motifs and styles, will be analyzed trans-culturally in order to understand the semantic and formal dimensions of their underlying time concepts. The comparative perspective on visual representations from the Portuguese and the Spanish colonial systems and their respective local communities allows us to differentiate in our analysis between larger symbolic spheres on one hand and more auto-referential aspects on the other. What was the reason for the construction of European medieval traditions in these contexts, and which kind of periodizations were inscribed into it? In which way were Christian traditions modified to explain the present, to implement visual systems and to construct another past? And according to which logic, these parallel epistemological systems were constituted? The examples from Brazil and Bolivia show the existence of very diverse ‘medieval time lines’ and de-construct the essentialist character of ”medieval” and its temporal fixation. In both cases, medieval anachronisms served as modes to turn cultural differences intelligible and comprehensible for all historical actors, disregarding European systems of periodization. This cross-temporal use of medieval styles and semantics explains, why European stylistic and epochal categorizations doesn’t work either in the historical, nor in the art historical context of Latin American cultural history.

Keywords: Representation, Colonial Art, Medieval, Brazil, Bolivia

Author: Baumgarten, Jens (Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil / Brasilien)
Co-Author: Astrid Windus (Universität Hamburg, Germany / Deutschland)


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