The idiosyncrasy of indigenism in Latin Americaappel à contributions

In the mid-1920s, Peruvian intellectual José Carlos Mariátegui introduced the term "indigenism" and defined it as a Latin American avant-garde trend that manifested as a literary genre, a political ideology, and an artistic classification. Nevertheless, as Michele Greet demonstrates in Beyond National Identity: Pictorial Indigenism as a Modernist Strategy in Andean Art, 1920-1960, indigenism is also the result of a paradoxical dialectic between the national and the international spheres. This "negotiation"[1] between the national and the international is at the heart of the problem to be addressed in the next issue of Artelogie, which invites investigations of this Latin American trend as a strategy of transculturation between Latin America and the rest of the world. Mainly studied as a centripetal movement in Latin America, we propose a consideration of indigenism as a centrifugal, plurisecular and cross-cultural phenomenon.

Indeed, it seems that in foreign cities such as Paris, indigenism was also constructed and deployed in a transnational way in response to political and cultural schema.[2] In the 20th and 21th centuries, Europe and then the United States, among others regions, were the locations where indigenism found its intellectual, political and visual inspiration and/or the cites, where it could find its purpose. Consequently, in the post-war period, Ecuadorian Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919-1999) defends the Indian in paint via a re-reading of the works of Picasso and Bernard Buffet. Sculptors such as Marina Núñez del Prado (1910-1992), architects such as Pedro Ramírez Vásquez (1919-2013), musicians such as Theodore Valcárcel (1900-1942) also appropriate methods, techniques, and materials from outside Latin American to design buildings and compose melodies in support of the Native American cause. To these examples, we can add of course the appropriations of native traditions, in particular those from the Amazon, as well as multiple contemporary creations, both in the field of design and the visual arts.

European cultural theories can also represent both models and counter-models for indigenist governments. For example, The Grammar of Ornament written by Owen Jones in England in 1856, provided a cultural model for Latin American artists by demonstrating how promoting native decorative patterns can validate the cultures from which the patterns derived. The Peruvian draftswoman, Elena Izcue, author of El arte peruano in the escuela (1926), had the volume Formes et couleurs (1921) by the French artist Auguste H. Thomas[3] in her library, and was probably inspired by this volume in the creation of her own collection.  The educational, social, and political theories of Europe, particularly the writings of Auguste Comte and Jean-Jacques Rousseau,[4] inspired scholarly and artistic teaching methods in Latin America.

By approaching Latin American and European art history within the framework of a simultaneously conflictive and collaborative modernity, rather than "opposing insular nationalism and alienating internationalism,"[5] this cultural history project would reveal their common dynamics and highlight the diachronic and diasporic hybridization of contemporary visual culture. The purpose is thus to approach indigenism - or indigenisms - chronologically from the 20th to the 21st century. The aim is to analyze its construction as it has been elaborated outside of the borders of Latin America, in travel to and from foreign countries and nations with cultural indigenism and in connection with other contemporary movements addressing or related to identity politics.

Exploring the productive tensions surrounding indigenist art and considering different perceptions of this long cultural history will facilitate a rethinking of the fights for representation and self-representation undertaken by diverse cultures in Latin America. Moreover, we could correlate these analyses with other cultural phenomena dealing with identity formation, such as those in North America, Oceania and Africa.

The theme of this forthcoming issue of Artelogie deals with transfers between cultures, which are very different at different moments in history - i.e. the pre-Colombian era- and in the space. Thus, a multidisciplinary approach seems essential, linking art history, the history of the ideas, and anthropology. In this study it is also necessary to consider the themes of  political, diplomatic, and economic exchange between France and Latin American countries.


Suggested themes

  • How dialogue(s) between " western culture " and native groups took place
  • Sources – models and counter-models - of indigenism outside Latin America
  • Inversions: native portraits through the eyes of Westerners / Westerners portraits through the eyes of natives
  • Indigenism and the artistic avant-garde, processes of appropriation and fracture
  • Cites of the formation of indigenism outside Latin America
  • How the diasporic processes of indigenism in the 19th and   20th  centuries served the internal politics of Latin America
  • Model and counter-model: indigenism as a reaction to and an appropriation of western models
  • How the processes of hybridization interact with the concepts of heritage, tradition and innovation
  • Native artistic expressions that reflect cultures founded on other values and beliefs, what are the ways to validate and interact with this diversity?

Submission guidelines

Deadline for official acceptance of original unpublished work: 30th of march 2018

Total length of the text: characters (no more than 50000 characters or 35 pages), including title, authors’ bibliographic data and e-mails,  summary, introduction, all other paragraphs considered appropriate, conclusion, acknowledgements (if necessary) and references.

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[1] Michele Greet, Beyond National Identity. Pictorial Indigenism as a Modernist Strategy in Andean Art, 1920-1960, University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009, p. 3.

[2] Art d’Amérique latine 1911-1968, museum of modern art, Center Georges Pompidou, Paris, Center Pompidou, 1992, p. 36.

[3] Archives of MALI – museum of art of Lima - Peru, listing of Elena Izcue’s books, without reference.

[4] Vanessa Giambelluca, « La Enseñanza del Dibujo en la Escuela. El Aporte de Martín Malharro », Arte e investigación, (2012), n°8, 3-4.

[5] Christoph SINGLER, « Traversée des marges », in Caravelle. Arts d’Amérique latine : marges et traverses, 2003, 80, p. 9.


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