Redefining the Boundaries of Latin American Art

A brief introduction:

In Mari Carmen Ramirez’s essay, “Beyond the Fantastic” (1992), she begins by claiming that art exhibitions are privileged vehicles for the representation of individual and collective identities. Bringing together works produced by artists, both as individuals and members of a specific communities, allows viewers to see how the groups in question visually construct their image. Ramirez argues the current (as of 1992) curatorial model, one where only one or two curators work together to create an exhibit, is no longer sufficient. It creates too many problems, which Ramirez explains more carefully in her essay: exoticization, homogenization, distorted images created by outsiders, perpetuation of stereotypes and monolithically framed exhibits.

Curators must take the extra steps to ensure accurate narratives of Latino/a artists are portrayed. These steps include understanding and overcoming internalized and institutionalized racism that causes American curators (and the public) to see Latin American artists as requiring legitimization by the United States in order to be relevant. This will help curators to identify Latin America as an independent, pluralistic group of countries that does not need to be compared to the United States in order to be legitimized in terms of culture, art and internal structure.

In fact, some argue that the United States and Latin America are not so different in their layers of history- they both were created and structured by colonization. Difference comes about once the United States claims a colonizing role, while Latin American countries do not. When this is considered, there is no real reason the United States should be considered in any way ‘better’ or ‘more advanced’ than Latin America. The United States’s need to legitimize Latin America in relation to the U.S. is merely a result of  neo-colonial mindsets and a long standing history of racism and elitism, despite Latin America’s ability to be viable in its own respect. It is only when compared to Euro-centric ideals that Latin America’s credibility is questioned.

Click here to read my entire essay.

Click here to read Mari Carmen Ramirez’s essay, “Beyond the Fantastic” (1992).

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