Monthly Archive: June 2017

Memorialization and Presence: Capturing the Legacies of the Young Lords in New York

This essay reviews the three-venue exhibition ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York, which opened in July of 2015 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio and the Loisaida Center in the Lower East Side. It assesses the three significantly different approaches of these institutions to capturing the visual and performative legacy of the Young Lords, a radical decolonial Nuyorican group of the early 1970s whose political activism engaged communities to transform space through artistic practices. In critically surveying these three approaches, this essay means to explore the cultural, art-historical, and political stakes of exhibitions like … Read more

The Regime of the Visible

The Regime of Visible, in the form of a pocket map, introduces two ways of exploring Cannerberg, a small hill situated between Maastricht, the Netherlands, and Kanne, Belgium. One side of the map traces the ownership of land by mapping cadaster parcels and their corresponding buildings and underground tunnel structures. The other side traces varied sources from the history and geology of Caestert plateau with a focus on Cannerberg. From Neolithic times, continuous mining of flint nodules and later limestone created a complex network of underground tunnels around Maastricht, popularly called “the caves.” Flint nodules were used to make tools … Read more

The Politics of Color in the Arctic Landscape: Blackness at the Center of Frederic Edwin Church’s Aurora Borealis and the Legacy of 19th-Century Limits of Representation

American painter Frederic Edwin Church’s monumental oil painting Aurora Borealis (1865) presents a stark contrast to the dominant Western tradition of representing the Arctic as monochrome and static. This article discusses how the impressive palette of Aurora Borealis and its black semi-circle in the center allow for a revisionist understanding of Church’s contributions to a rich history of Arctic representation, including in an age of climate change and rapidly melting ice. The article connects Aurora Borealis to emerging lens technologies—especially photography and astronomy, and later the cinema and composite satellite imagery, to argue for circumpolar north as globally connected—then, and … Read more

Mute Cries: Louis Althusser Between Roberto Álvarez Ríos and Wifredo Lam

This introductory essay examines the role of two articles on the Cuban painters Roberto Álvarez Ríos and Wifredo Lam, “A Young Cuban Painter Before Surrealism: Álvarez Ríos” (1962) and “Lam” (1977), in the French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser’s writing on art. It argues that these largely ignored articles offer snapshots of two key shifts in Althusser’s thought: his transition, during the early 1960s, from Hegelian Marxism to structural Marxism, and, during the late 1970s, from structural Marxism to so-called aleatory materialism. It contextualizes the articles in the social and political milieu of French philosophy during the 1960s and 70s and … Read more

Homebound: The Art of Public Space in Contemporary Cuba

Despite the home’s long history as a locus of cultural and political action in Cuba, serious studies of its informal residential culture are only now beginning to emerge. This article explores how the exhibition of art in private homes intervenes in debates about public space in Havana. It situates these exhibition practices historically with respect to the spatial politics of the Cuban Revolution of 1959, while mapping the reorganization of official and unofficial cultures after the demise of the Soviet bloc. Bringing into relief how these home exhibits problematize state and market alliances in the postsocialist context, I argue that … Read more

Oscar Bony’s La Familia Obrera: The Labor and the Work

This article analyzes Oscar Bony’s work La Familia Obrera (1968), in which a working class family sat on view in the gallery of the Instituto Di Tella in Buenos Aires. What might be read from the transformation of a working class family into a work of art? How was Bony’s own artistic labor reconfigured in the process? How did Bony’s display of a working class family engage with both the context of the Instituto Di Tella—an extension of Argentina’s most prominent industrial company—and the demands for productivity made by the developmentalist dictatorship of Juan Carlos Onganía? In other words, how … Read more