CLAA Symposium

Mission Statement

Version en español

Splendor, Spectacle, Self-Fashioning: Questioning the Role of Display in Colonial Latin American Visual Culture
International Symposium on Colonial Latin American Art

School of Art and Art History, University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida
November 3-4, 2017

Sculptures, paintings, prints, retables, furniture, textiles, silverwork and other manifestations of Latin American colonial visual culture often coexisted within church interiors, civic spaces, and homes to create a large collection and decorative program of display. These decorative programs even at times traversed entire cities through extensive urban architectural programs. This symposium seeks to critically address how images were displayed in their original contexts, how multiple images coexisted and worked together, and how this shapes our understanding of the object as it was commissioned and viewed during the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries in different areas of colonial Latin America. How were images displayed in the colonial period and how did that context shape the contemporary perception and understanding of the object(s)?

Moreover, colonialism was an ongoing and complex process that involved negotiation, resistance, reconciliation, and manipulation of new and old art forms. In short, art reflected, facilitated, and authenticated the complex reality of colonialism and colonial culture. How were display and the viewing experience an integral part of that process? How did the many types of artworks reside and work together in a single space or multiple related spaces to shape and reflect that reality?

The presentations focus on the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries and address the diverse range of Spanish- and Portuguese-ruled colonial regions of Latin America including the Viceroyalty of New Spain, the Viceroyalty of Peru (including the later Viceroyalties of New Granada and the Río de la Plata), and the Viceroyalty of Brazil. We are aware that the discussion on display is also relevant for the art produced in the British colonies in America. However, we would like to establish an “internal” dialogue among the different media and regions through which the Latin American idea of display was conveyed and developed throughout the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. We believe there is a primary academic need to deepen the analysis concerning the regions mentioned above, as well as regional cases that reveal the political, cultural, and social aspects of display.

Dr. Clara Bargellini will address these questions and themes in her keynote address. A faculty member at the prestigious Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Bargellini received her Masters in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania and her doctorate in the same field from Harvard.

Through a series of presentations and a concluding roundtable discussion among the presenters and Clara Bargellini, it is our combined goal to invite emerging scholars of Latin American Colonial art to present on the theme of display and offer a constructive forum in which to receive feedback on their work; open a dialogue on the diverse issues of display in the colonial context; as well as provide the opportunity to build a network of colleagues in the field for future collaboration. We also offer an online publication opportunity in which the presentations will be turned into articles in association with the symposium. Finally, this symposium will bring together the community of students and scholars at the University of Florida who work in and study Latin America in an effort both to open a dialogue on campus about art in Latin America and maximize the visibility of the department of Art History at the University of Florida which constitutes a specialized school devoted to the study of Latin American Art.