Permanent Seminar in Latin American Art

Permanent Seminar–Spring 2014

March 6, 2014 · No Comments

We are excited to be back with the Spring 2014 Permanent Seminar! Under the common title Modernity in Transition. Architectural Processes in Latin America, we launch three sessions focused on modern architectural projects in Colombia, Cuba, and Mexico in the 1950s and 1960s. Our guest presenters are Victoria Sánchez Holguín (Doctoral Student at UT Austin), Fredo Rivera (PhD Candidate at Duke University), and Dr. Kathryn O’Rourke (Art History Professor at Trinity University).

As usual, our meetings will take place in CLAVIS (ART 3.434).

If you cannot join us in person, live streaming will be available on our Ustream channel.

We look forward to exciting conversations!

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Victoria Sánchez Holguín

Ciudad Kennedy: Modernization and Social Reality in Colombia in the 1960s

March 19th / 7:00 pm


The efforts by the Colombian state to the country’s housing shortage had its greatest impact in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Instituto de Crédito Territorial (ICT – Institute of the Territorial Credit) built approximately half a million units throughout the country. This presentation seeks to illuminate the role played by the ICT in the process of modernization of Colombian cities by focusing on the nearly 10,000 social housing units known as Ciudad Kennedy, a neighborhood in Bogotá. In Ciudad Kennedy, urbanistic, architectural, and technological experiments converge with the issues of the U.S. political and financial interests  in Latin America, promoted through the aid provided by the Alliance for Progress.

Victoria Sánchez Holguín holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in architecture and urbanism for the Universität Stuttgart, Germany. From 1999 to 2013, she was a lecturer in urban and architectural history at the School of Architecture of the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín, Colombia. Currently she is a PhD student in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin.

Fredo Rivera

Building Utopia: Architecture and Ideology in 1960s Havana, Cuba

April 9th / 7:00 pm

Fredo's talk

In her survey of Cuban contemporary art Rachel Weiss marks utopia as a dominant theme in Cuban art and culture. The contemporary fascination with and critique of utopia is indicative of the predominance of 1960s and 70s socialist projects in shaping the island nation’s consciousness and built environment. My presentation will explore theories and discourse regarding utopia and Marxism of the long 1960s, explicating the manner in which utopia is expressed both in architecture and architectural discourse.  Looking at examples such as the Escuelas Nacional de Arte (1961-5), the Edificio Experimental (1967), and the Ciudad Universitaria José Antonio Echeverria (CUJAE), I will focus on debates regarding utopia both within Cuba and globally. After discussing writings by Ernst Bloch, Ricardo Porro, Manfredo Tafuri, Che Guevara, Carlos Villanueva, and others, I will open the floor to discussion about the role of utopia in modern Latin America and globally.

Fredo Rivera is a Ph.D. Candidate at Duke University, where he is currently finishing his dissertation “Revolutionizing Modernities: Visualizing Utopia in 1960s Havana, Cuba.”  He specializes in Caribbean art and visual culture, modern Latin America, and architecture and urbanism in the Global South.  He was previously a Research Affiliate at the School of Architecture of the University of Miami and an Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). He also conducts research on contemporary Miami and Haitian art and visual culture.

Kathryn O’Rourke

Luis Barragán’s Rooms

April 24th / 7:00 pm


Luis Barragán is perhaps Mexico’s best-known architect internationally. His mature work has long been noted for its integration of aspects of colonial Mexican architecture, popular art, and principles of international modernism. We will explore these ideas in relation to issues of representation in Barragán’s work, his approach to the design of rooms, and long-standing problems in Mexican architecture.

Kathryn O’Rourke received her B.A. in Architecture from Wellesley College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on twentieth-century architecture in Mexico and her publications include essays on Mexican architectural rationalism and public health care reform, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s work in Latin America, and urban planning in the 1920s Mexico City. She is currently completing a book project, Building History: Modern Architecture in Mexico City, about the influence of Mexican architectural history on modern architecture in the Mexican capital.

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Two exhibitions featuring artist Juan Capistran open next week.

January 22, 2014 · No Comments

Following a quiet but busy fall, we are delighted to start 2014 with two very exciting exhibitions curated by our colleague Rose Salseda. Rose has been investigating the work of Mexico-born, Los-Angeles-based artist Juan Capistran for a few years now. Last year she discussed his work at the CAA Conference in NYC.

It’s a real treat that Rose is bringing Capistran’s work for two separate exhibitions that open at UT next week. Please, mark your calendars:

1. Thursday, January 30th at 5pm in the ISESE Gallery at the Warfield Center (JES A230): Historical Present, an exhibition of photographs and mixed media works by Juan Capistran and Ricky Yanas and curated by Rose Salseda. More information here:

2. Friday, January 31st at 6pm in the VAC: What We Want, What We Believe: Towards a Higher Fidelity, a solo exhibition of new art by Juan Capistran curated by Rose Salseda; Art History: Selections from the Green-Christian Collection, curated by Professor Eddie Chambers; and Grids and Geography: Dean Fleming’s Travels in North African and Greece, 1964, curated by Professor Linda Henderson. More information here:


Historical Present


Juan Capistran (b. 1976, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico) is a Los Angeles-based artist whose mixed media works were prominently featured in Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement, the pioneering exhibition of Mexican American contemporary art that debuted at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2007. A graduate of Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles and the University of California, Irvine, Capistran has exhibited his art internationally at the 12th Istanbul Biennial in Turkey, the New Museum in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, and the 2nd Triennial Poli-Grafica in San Juan, Puerto Rico among many others.

Ricky Yanas (b. 1984, San Antonio, Texas) is an Austin-based artist and photography lecturer at the Texas State University, San Marcos. Since graduating from the MFA program in photography at UT Austin in 2011, Yanas’s work has been featured in exhibitions at Mexic-Arte Museum and Up Collective in Austin. In 2012, he was a co-recipient of the prestigious Idea Fund Grant and a guest editor and featured artist in Pastelegram, an Austin-based print and online art magazine.

Curator Rose G. Salseda is a PhD candidate in Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. She researches modern and contemporary art, with an emphasis on the parallel and intersecting histories of Latino and African-American artists. Her dissertation, The Visual Art Legacy of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, includes an in-depth look at artworks by Adrian Piper, Chris Burden, Nick Cave, and Juan Capistran that were inspired by one of the largest uprisings in US history.


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Permanent Seminar–Fall 2013

October 28, 2013 · No Comments

Hello everyone,
The Center for Latin American Visual Studies (CLAVIS) of the Department of Art and Art History is thrilled to invite you to the Permanent Seminar. As many of you know, the Permanent Seminar is an open-ended research space dedicated to the creative production of knowledge on Latin American art. Since the beginning of 2008, graduate students, artists, scholars, and curators from UT as well as from Latin America come together regularly for this initiative.
We are excited to be back and to launch the Fall 2014 Permanent Seminar with two sessions that will certainly contribute to dynamic discussions. This semester we will focus on contemporary art practices in Peru and Argentina. Dorota Biczel and Cynthia Francica, PhD Candidates in Art History and Comparative Literature, respectively, will discuss collaborative experimental art projects, political affairs, and underground spaces taking place in Lima and Buenos Aires during the last decades. Through these meetings, we aim to explore art in times of political turmoil.
As usual, our meetings will take place in CLAVIS (ART 3.434).

Thursday, October 31, 7 pm

“Nothing political”: Limeña cultural underground and remaking of the politics in the 1980s

Dorota Biczel


Between 1984 and 1987, the architectural collective Los Bestias, comprised of students of the Universidad Ricardo Palma in Lima, Peru, realized a number of informal interventions on university campuses and other sites of the Peruvian capital. They also created scenography and graphic materials for Limeña underground rock events, such as the concerts Denuncia x la vida and Rockacho. This emergent heterogeneous cultural scene ostensibly identified itself with the slogan “nothing political.” Nonetheless, their posters, zines, and song lyrics took on the most pressing problems of the moment, including extreme political and social violence. I argue that in the context of the Peruvian Internal Conflict (1980–2000) and the ensuing decline of the Peruvian left, their stance served as a dramatic rearticulation of the term “political.” Their events crystallized a new type of counterpublic, which stood in opposition to a cohesive, homogeneous social body that the dominant ideologies—various streaks of Marxism, including “Leninist-Maoist” revolution, and neoliberal modernization—required and intended to forge. Thus, they dramatically remade the platform from which political demands would be voiced.

Dorota Biczel is doctoral candidate at the Center for Latin American Visual Studies (CLAVIS) in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests revolve around the questions of community building, ‘public sphere’, and art historiographies in the ‘new democracies’ under neoliberal policies in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Her dissertation focuses on artistic and architectural experimental practice and the notions of the public in Lima, Peru, between 1978 and 1989.

Thursday, November 21, 7 pm

“Belleza y Felicidad:” Queerness and Visual Practices

Cynthia Francica


“Belleza y Felicidad” (1999-2007) was an underground, anti-institutional art gallery/publishing house that provided young writers and artists with the opportunity to informally circulate their work outside traditional and hard to access cultural circuits. Founded in Almagro, Buenos Aires, by visual artists and writers Fernanda Laguna and Cecilia Pavón, the space became a stage for interdisciplinary explorations as well as for alternative modes of subjectivity and sociability. I examine artwork connected with “ByF” in order to track the emergence of alternative ways of doing, feeling, and engaging with the visual in this space.

Cynthia Francica is a Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature at The University of Texas at Austin. She is currently writing her dissertation titled “Visual Reading, Queer Writing: Literature and the Visual Arts in the U.S. and Argentina” under the auspices of a Comparative Literature Graduate Excellence Continuing Fellowship. She holds an M.A. in Comparative Literature from UT Austin.

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Time to submit paper proposals for 2014 CAA Conference in Chicago.

April 23, 2013 · No Comments

The deadline for paper submissions for 2014 College Art Association Conference in Chicago, IL, is coming up soon.
Among many panels of interest, we suggest:

Visualizing the Riot

Dr. Eddie Chambers, Assistant Professor, and Rose Salseda, Doctoral Student, University of Texas at Austin;

Please submit proposals to and

Throughout the twentieth century, riots have been an intermittent yet pronounced aspect of urban history. Primarily due to the violence they embody, riots draw particular types of attention from mainstream media and arguably pass into history, as well as the popular imagination, in various skewed and problematic ways. In contrast, many artists have made fascinating, sophisticated works that reference specific episodes of rioting. Surprisingly, given the power of the artworks and the devastating effects of rioting, scant curatorial and scholarly attention is paid to how artists visualize riots. Therefore, this session seeks to address some of these seldom-considered issues. The co-chairs seek proposals from art historians, curators, and artists who have explored the visualization of riots. In addition, they hope to secure contributions that critically examine the dominant tropes of rioting, such as burning buildings, looting, and so on, that have become a familiar aspect of mainstream reportage.

See the official 2014 CFP at (CFP listed on page six).

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Art History/CLAVIS Lecture Series: Rachel Weiss on April 18, 4:00pm

April 10, 2013 · No Comments

April might be the cruelest month, but it is also one of the most exciting ones. On April 17 and 18, CLAVIS will be hosting Rachel Weiss, Professor of Arts Administration and Policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. We are looking forward to listening to and conversing with this noted scholar of New Cuban Art, an incisive critic of art institutions, and one of the curators co-responsible for a now ubiquitous term “global Conceptualism.” On Wednesday, April 17, Rachel Weiss will lead a Permanent Seminar at CLAVIS. On Thursday, April 18, she will deliver a lecture in the Art History Lecture Series.
We look forward to seeing you at these two thrilling events!

Art History Lecture Series and CLAVIS present:

Rachel Weiss

Lupe at the mic”

Thursday, April 18, 4:00 pm

Art Building, Room 1.120


“Lupe at the mic” recounts the 2009 performance in Havana for which Tania Bruguera installed a microphone in the patio of the Wifredo Lam Center and invited people to speak, unfiltered, for a minute each. Among those who took her up on her offer was famed dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez, which meant that the piece was an instant scandal and, additionally, succès de scandale. Despite that inherent element of melodrama, there was an unsettling vacuum of catharsis produced by the event, and in fact, it was in its afterlife as rumor, YouTube video, and blog post that the work achieved greatest density. This talk will think through some of the resonances, contradictions, and quandaries raised by the piece and by its reception in various quarters. It is part of a larger project Weiss is currently working on about upsetting experiences of art.

Writer, educator and lapsed curator, Rachel Weiss is Professor of Arts Administration and Policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has published extensively on contemporary art in journals, magazines and newspapers in the US, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. Major publications include Making Art Global: The Tercera Bienal de la Habana (Afterall Books), To and From Utopia in the New Cuban Art (University of Minnesota Press), Por América: la obra de Juan Francisco Elso (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas: co-author and editor) and On Art, Artists, Latin America and Other Utopias by Luis Camnitzer (University of Texas Press: editor). Among her major curatorial projects is included the pioneer exhibition Global Conceptualism 1950s-1980s: Points of Origin (Queens Museum of Art, NYC: co-director with Luis Camnitzer and Jane Farver)

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Notable guest speakers on UT campus: Lalo Alcaraz & Coco Fusco.

April 4, 2013 · No Comments

April is a busy month at the UT campus. Among a myriad of lectures and panel discussions, we want to highlight two, especially since both involve CLAVIS’s own Dr. George Flaherty.

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Tonight, April 4, 7:00–9:00PM, the Benson Collection hosts its 11th annual ¡A Viva Voz! celebration of U.S. Latin@ culture. This year’s speaker is Lalo Alcaraz, cartoonist, artist, and writer.

The evening includes an exhibit of Alcaraz’s unique and thought-provoking artwork, with comments by Dr. Flaherty on Alcaraz’s contributions chronicling Latina/o ascendency in the U.S. since the early 1900s. In 2002, Alcaraz created “La Cucaracha,” the first nationally syndicated Latino political comic strip, which runs in a broad spectrum of newspapers.

Light refreshments will be provided. This event is free and open to the public.


On Thursday, April 11th, at 5:30pm in ART 1.102, the Center for Arts of Africa and its Diasporas (CAAD) will host an artist’s talk with internationally renowned artist and writer Coco Fusco, in conversation with Dr. Flaherty.


Fusco’s multi-media work explores and challenges cultural issues of race, gender and socio-political inequality. From a closed-circuit television series, a performance based on military courses in prisoner interrogation, and online video-streaming, Fusco’s work combines artistic practice with political commentary and social media. Her work has been exhibited at two Whitney Biennials, and recently at Tate Liverpool and Centre d’Art Contemporain La Synagogue de Delme in France. Fusco is also the author of A Field Guide for Female Interrogators (Seven Stories Press) and editor of several books.  She is also the Director of Intermedia Initiatives at Parsons The New School for Design.

This talk is free and open to the public.

We hope to see you there!

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Andrea Giunta on conspiracy and Latin American art in the CIA magazine.

February 28, 2013 · No Comments

Starting with the quote from Bob Dylan, “Inside the museum, infinity goes up on trial… ,” in the second number of the magazine published by Buenos-Aires-based CIA (Centro de Investigaciones Artísticas), entitled simply Revista CIA, dr Andrea Giunta writes about Latin American art seen through the prism of theories of conspiracy. Her article “Imaginarios de la desestabilización” discusses the cases of New York Graphic Workshop, Fernando Bryce, Leon Ferrari, and Juan Dávila, focusing especially on the attitudes towards institutions. You can read the article online–together with nearly 400 pages of juicy content–here.

Fernando Bryce, Visión de pintura occidental, 2002. Detail of the installation.

Fernando Bryce, Visión de pintura occidental, 2002. Detail of the installation.

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Permanent Seminar — Spring 2013

February 28, 2013 · No Comments

Unlike windy Texas weather at this very moment, spring semester is reaching its boiling point by now. Hence, it is with a slight delay that we announce that we resumed the meetings of Permanent Seminar in Latin American art. We started last Tuesday, February 26, with a very successful book presentation by our own Sebastian Vidal (see below for details).

Continuing according to CLAVIS’s investigative spirit, the Spring 2013 Permanent Seminar sessions introduce a number of important changes that will hopefully deepen critical discussions on the study of art in Latin America and its resonances beyond the continent. To promote more in-depth discussions, we have planned this semester’s meetings as three clusters centered around a specific theoretical approach.

We look forward to you joining us! As before, all of our meetings take place in CLAVIS (ART 3.434), and everyone is welcome to come. You can also stream our discussions and participate online.

Read below for the information on this semester’s sessions.
* * * * * * * 

February 26, 7:00 pm

Book Presentation: Sebastián Vidal, “En el principio. Arte, archivos y tecnologías durante la dictadura en Chile,” with commentary by Andrea Giunta and Luis Vargas-Santiago

Session in Spanish


Este libro es un trabajo historiográfico sobre la estrategia documental de los artistas de los años setenta y ochenta y de su tránsito desde la dictadura a la democracia. De escritura crítica y amena, el autor centra su atención en el uso de archivos y de las tecnologías en el arte contemporáneo tales como el video y la computación, tomando como casos paradigmáticos In the Beginning de Juan Downey y el teatro Aleph; la Exposición retrospectiva Santiago punto cero de Gonzalo Mezza; el primer y único programa de televisión especializado sobre video y arte en Chile En torno al video cuyo principal ideólogo es Carlos Flores; y Satelitenis, una video experiencia en la que participaron Eugenio Dittborn, Carlos Flores y Eugenio Downey.

“En el principio. Arte, archivos y tecnologías durante la dictadura en Chile” es un libro fundamental para todo aquel interesado en historia del arte y arte contemporáneo en Chile.

Publicado por Metales Pesados 2013.

This book is a historiographical work about the documental strategies of Chilean artists during the dictatorship and the early years of democracy. In a highly readable, sharp prose, the author analyzes in depth the use of archives and technologies such as video and computers in contemporary art. Here, Vidal works with paradigmatic cases like the first video performance in Chile ‘In the Beginning’ by Juan Downey and The Aleph Theater Company; the pioneering computer exhibition in Chile ‘Santiago punto cero’ by Gonzalo Mezza; Carlos Flores’ ‘En torno al video’, an original TV program specialized on video and art; and ‘Satelitenis’, a video mail art experience produced by Eugenio Dittborn, Carlos Flores and Juan Downey.

En el principio. Arte, archivos y tecnologías durante la dictadura en Chile is a fundamental book to anybody interested in art history and contemporary art in Chile.

Published by Metales Pesados, 2013.

Sebastian Vidal. Ph.D. candidate in art history at The University of Texas at Austin, Fulbright grantee. M.A. and B.A. in Theory and Art History at The Universidad de Chile, B.A. in Art Education at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He worked as archive researcher at Centro de Documentacion de las Artes at Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda CCPLM (2005-2010). He has lectured at ARCIS, Central, and Diego Portales Universities in Santiago and published in diverse print and electronic media. In addition, he has worked as a curator in the exhibitions Devota: Arte Contemporáneo and China Boulevard at CCPLM in 2009, Ultimate Melée Warrior Doom at SAM Gallery in 2010, and Tierra Baldía at CCU Art Gallery. He is currently writing his doctoral thesis, “The Visual Arts during the Chilean Transition,’’ works as a columnist for the art magazine and is the graduate coordinator of CLAVIS (Center for Latin American Visual Studies) at UT Austin.

March 21, 6:00 pm

George Flaherty, “Death and the Maidens: Regina Teuscher, Regina, and the Afterlives of Mexico’s ‘68″


Among the hundreds of students and supporters murdered by the Mexican government on October 2, 1968 at Tlatelolco, one—Ana María Regina Teuscher Krüger, a 19-year old medical student and hostess for the impending Mexico City Olympics—captured the imagination of various writers. Unflinching photographs of Teuscher by photojournalist Manuel Rojas Aguirre on a morgue examination table were published in Siempre, inspiring Antonio Velasco Piña fictionalized biography, Regina: El 2 de octubre no se olvida (1985), one of the bestselling yet controversial and understudied texts to emerge in response to the massacre. Pretty, young, and educated, she was the face of a modern, liberal Mexico spoiled. Yet, taking her mediation and icon-ization into account, Teuscher also offers a provocative model for writing the history ’68, which has turned in large part on the romanticization of the movement and the evacuation of its political agency by conservative forces. Velasco Piña imagines the student movement as a millenarian groundswell and the massacre as a neo-Mesoamerican sacrifice, offering not a history of “what really happened” but a radical hospitality toward figures and polemics that fall outside the by now canonized representation of ’68, a worthwhile project given the multiple and unanticipated afterlives of the event in contemporary Mexico.

Dr. George Flaherty. Assistant Professor of Latin American and U.S. Latino Art, Department of Art and Art History, University of Texas at Austin. George specializes in visual and spatial cultures in post-1940 Mexico and its borderlands, with research interests extending to film and media studies and subaltern studies. George is currently completing a book manuscript, Hotel de México: Dwelling in and on ’68, that investigates Mexico City’s 1968 student movement and its representation. This project has been supported by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (National Gallery of Art), the Social Science Research Council, Society of Architectural Historians and a Fulbright-García Robles grant hosted by the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

April 17, 6:00 pm

Rachel Weiss, “To and From Utopia in the New Cuban Art. The Role of the National Museum of Fine Arts”


Rachel Weiss will analyze how the artwork/movement of “New Cuban Art” has been historicized through its institutionalization in the National Museum of Fine Arts of Cuba. This analysis requires to consider not only the work itself and the context in which it arose, but also how its use value is reassigned in the process of its subsequent entry into historical accounts and, moreover, into markets. According to Weiss, it is the latter entry that is, arguably, of much greater consequence for the ongoing production of visual art on the island. This study contemplates the work of artists like Kcho, Los Carpinteros, Tania Bruguera, Abigaíl González, Carlos Garaicoa, Manuel Piña, Iván Capote, José Luis Marrero among others.

Rachel Weiss. Writer, educator and lapsed curator, Rachel Weiss is Professor of Arts Administration and Policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has published extensively on contemporary art in journals, magazines and newspapers in the US, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. Major publications include Making Art Global: The Tercera Bienal de la Habana (Afterall Books), To and From Utopia in the New Cuban Art (University of Minnesota Press), Por América: la obra de Juan Francisco Elso (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas: co-author and editor) and On Art, Artists, Latin America and Other Utopias by Luis Camnitzer (University of Texas Press: editor). Between her major curatorial projects is include the pionner exhibition Global Conceptualism 1950s-1980s: Points of Origin (Queens Museum of Art, NYC: co-director with Luis Camnitzer and Jane Farver).

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Tatiana Reinoza at “Abriendo Brecha” Activist Scholarship Conference at UT

February 14, 2013 · No Comments

On Friday, February 15 at 10:15am, Tatiana Reinoza will be discussing photo series Celdas by Honduras-born artist Alma Leiva at the Abriendo Brecha (Opening a Path), an annual conference on activist scholarship held at The University of Texas at Austin. Tatiana will speak on the panel Art, Activism, and Social Justice, which will be chaired by master printmaker and activist artist Malaquias Montoya (Room CLA 1.302 E).

Alma Leiva, Celda #1

Tatiana Reinoza
“Inside Alma Leiva’s Celdas: The Practice of Everyday Life in the most Violent Country in the World”
Following the Honduran military coup in 2009 and while working on her MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University, Alma Leiva (b. 1975, Honduras, lives Brooklyn/Miami) began the photography series she calls Celdas (prison cells) where the interior of working class homes are recreated with meticulous detail. Inside these cells, the artist reveals the living spaces, the vernacular architecture, and the everyday life of people who have suddenly become prisoners in their own homes due to the escalation of narco-terror and gang violence. By distancing her work from direct representations of bloodshed, I will argue that her Celdas series uses the practice of everyday life to level a critique against the hegemonic force of state sanctioned terror. Furthermore, by placing us in the domestic sphere this body of work forms a feminist counter-archive to the hypervisibility of public masculine violence.

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At CAA: Rose Salseda on the legacies of minimalism and identity politics.

February 14, 2013 · No Comments

If you are in NYC at the CAA this week, CLAVIS’s Rose Salseda will present the paper “A Latino New Wave: Minimalism, Race, and Postidentity Politics in the Art of Juan Capistran” on Thursday, February 14th, at the 9:30-12:30 pm panel The Particularities of Postidentity.

If you are not at the CAA, a week after this, on Friday, February 22nd, at 11am, Rose will present at the Refashioning Blackness: Contesting Racism in the Afro-Americas conference, sponsored by the Warfield Center and LLILAS. This paper, “All Mod Cons: Minimalism, Race, and Post-Identity Politics,” also discusses the work of Juan Capistran.

Congratulations, Rose!
We are looking forward to both presentations.

Juan Capistran, White Minority, 2005-07, 4 panels each 90”x19 1/2”, overall 96”x81”, acrylic and flocking on canvas

Juan Capistran, White Minority, 2005-07, 4 panels each 90”x19 1/2”, overall 96”x81”, acrylic and flocking on canvas


“A Latino New Wave: Minimalism, Race, and Postidentity Politics in the Art of Juan Capistran”

In this paper, I visually analyze All Mod Cons (2005-2007), a series of artworks by Los Angeles based multimedia artist Juan Capistran (b. 1976), and explore the artist’s use of Minimalism and his critical engagement with race within the context of postidentity politics. Inspired by the art of canonical artists from the mid-twentieth century, Capistran’s cycle of artwork consists of five mixed media paintings and sculptures characterized by a Minimalist aesthetic of simplified, geometric forms and a restricted palette of mostly blacks and whites. Though All Mod Cons is distinguished for its pared down aesthetic, the young Latino artist frames his striking and streamlined visual style through an intricate, conceptual web that incorporates various pop cultural and musical references. Interestingly, through his particular practice of Minimalism, Capistran counters the very visual language he relies upon to create his series of artworks. Unlike many of the artists who forged Minimalism, Capistran places value on racial politics as a valid topic for artistic exploration. For instance, much of the conceptual basis of the black and white striped painting White Minority (2005-2007), a re-interpretation of Frank Stella’s Zambezi (1959), lies in the tenuous nature of Stella’s assertion that black is “neutral” or a “non-color.” It is also dependent upon the racial ambiguity present in the title of Stella’s  painting, which he named after a Harlem jazz club—a club labeled “black and deviate” by art critic William Rubin as he discussed the artist’s work. On one hand, the title of White Minority signifies the minoritarian status of the color white as it covers less area space than black. Thus, Capistran expresses the tenets of Minimalism that honors formalism and non-objective art. However, the artist appropriated the title of White Minority from one of the most popular and racially controversial songs by the Los Angeles area punk band Black Flag. Recorded in 1978 by the band’s Puerto Rican singer, Ron Reyes, the song parodies the ranting of an imagined, xenophobic White supremacist who fears the threat of becoming a racial minority. Therefore, through the use of racial allegory, Capistran’s painting also suggests the minoritarian status of the White race. Consequently, the artist repackages the visual language of Minimalism as a radical and engaging style of art for the political and racial realities of contemporary Los Angeles, a city where people of color outnumber Whites and where the population of Latinos, alone, nearly equals the White population. Yet, Capistran’s refusal of labels such as “Latino” or “Chicano” for his artwork complicates his artistic validation of the politics of identity and race. A Mexican immigrant who grew up in Los Angeles after the initial wave of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, Capistran does not hold a strong relationship with Chicano activism and believes that racialized labels for his artwork restricts his exhibition opportunities as an artist and limits his audience. Grounding my discussion of Capistran’s artwork within the histories of Minimalism, Punk Rock, and the politics of race in art history and in Los Angeles, specifically, I reveal the possible ways in which younger generations of Latino artists, like Capistran, participate in a postidentity politics that, in a seemingly contradictory manner, honors race-based activism, but eschews racial identity.

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