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Issue #2 – 2023

Issue #2 – 2023

Uneasy Dialogues across Ancient Art History, Archaeology, and Contemporary Art Practice in the Americas


  • Uneasy Dialogues across Art History, Archaeology, and Art Practice in the Americas

    Lisa Trever

    The author lays out the problems and questions that prompted this special issue on “uneasy dialogues” across art history, archaeology, and contemporary art practice in the Americas. The art and visual culture of the Pre-Hispanic Americas is contested terrain. This essay discusses the temptation of “settler moves to innocence” in scholarship and in the contemporary art world. The author traces a surprising opportunity that emerges in a work by artist Gala Porras-Kim that, by accident, provides an ancient Moche captive bottle with conceptual liberation – not through return to bondage in northern Peru, but as escape to Yucatán. This text concludes by introducing the contents of this special issue that take the reader from the desert of New Mexico to the streets of Santiago de Chile.



  • Catholic Kinaestheology

    Darryl Wilkinson & Severin Fowles

    The study of Christian art is often synonymous with the study of Christian images. Yet in this article we adopt a different approach; examining a particular corpus of Christian art not as a collection of images, so much as the outcome of bodily gestures. Specifically, we analyze an extensive collection of rock art from the deserts of northern New Mexico as traces left behind by generations of Catholics, particularly the members of a lay fraternity known as the Penitentes. These penitents sought to manifest their piety through the pain and suffering incurred in the repetitive pecking of crosses onto basalt boulders. Even though the result of their actions was an image, we argue that privileging an iconographic analysis of such art fails to adequately capture the kinaesthetic theology that underlay its production.


  • Some Thoughts on Latin American Art History in the United States. Colleges and Collections, 1870-2021

    Mary E. Miller

    This essay addresses the role of Latin American collections in U.S. museums, with particular attention to the college and university museum, and the accessibility of those collections to students and the public. At the same time, the essay considers the instruction of Latin American subjects, particularly in history and art history, that may or may not interface with the establishment of museum collections. The author argues for the role of technology in the dissemination and promulgation of Latin American visual culture.


  • Ritual Object, Funerary Offering, Work of Art. The Place of the Pre-Columbian Past in the History of Art in Peru

    Cecilia Pardo

    The debate on whether Pre-Columbian objects should be studied from the discipline of art history or from archaeology has been the subject of various research studies in recent decades. The present essay reflects on this debate in the context of museum curation in the Museo de Arte de Lima (Peru). It presents examples of recent temporary and permanent exhibition displays, focusing on the creation of new narratives and forms of sharing the past, derived from the study of the objects themselves while placing them in a wider context of updated archaeological research. The article concludes by proposing a new form of curation demonstrating that the coexistence of both disciplines is not only possible but necessary.


  • Ch’u Mayaa and the Appropriation of the Past

    Jesse Lerner

    The short video Ch’u Mayaa (Maya Blue, 2017) by artist Clarissa Tossin uses the Barnsdall (or Hollyhock) House, one of five Southern California textile block homes by Frank Lloyd Wright built in the early 1920s, as the setting for a dance performance by the choreographer Crystal Sepúlveda. Without dialogue or narration, the video raises complex issues about the use and appropriation of imagery and designs from the ancient Americas, and the ways in which a structure from the past, now designated an architectural landmark, can be reframed by contemporary artists. The essay concludes with a brief discussion of the author’s collaboration with Mexican artist Mariana Castillo Deball, a playful conceptual project which also highlights the relationship between the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and that of the ancient Maya.


  • Contemporaneity and Composition in Mexican Design

    Robert J. Kett

    This essay tracks a series of ethnographic episodes at the intersections of heritage and design in Mexico today. Rather than draw conclusions about the present and future of Mexico’s cultural patrimony, these moments instead illustrate key tensions around the country’s cultural politics in practice, the histories that condition them, and strategies for grappling with this landscape today. Drawing on the concept of contemporaneity and the idea of composition as a critical and creative technique, it outlines emerging formations within the world of design that seek to articulate new possibilities within a cultural field historically dominated by official interests and policies.


  • “Desobediencia es habitar la revuelta” (Grafiti, Santiago de Chile, noviembre 2019). Revisitando la rebelión de los artefactos en el Chile del siglo XXI

    Flora Vilches

    The Chilean social uprising of October 2019 led to intense, massive protests against the abuses people experienced under the modern neoliberal system. Several everyday artifacts and technologies became part of the protests. Santiago was constantly transformed at a vertiginous rate by ephemeral events that left low-permanence material traces. Part of the graffiti, flags, sculptures, and clothing alluded to Pre-Hispanic populations bearing witness to an apparent transversal solidarity to denounce the temporal depth of abuses against Indigenous peoples that continue to exist. Drawing on this social and political contingency, I identify some traits that contribute to the long-term Pre-Columbian art/archaeology debate explored in this special issue.



  • Encontrar nuestra propia estética. Una conversación acerca de los límites de las disciplinas y las posibilidades de lo “precolombino”

    Ulla Holmquist, Kukuli Velarde & Carolina Luna


  • Maria Stavrinaki, Transfixed by Prehistory. An Inquiry into Modern Art and Time (2022)

    Alex Potts
  • Miruna Achim, Susan Deans-Smith & Sandra Rozental (eds.), Museum Matters. Making and Unmaking Mexico’s National Collections (2021)

    Christian Stenz
  • Ilka Mestemacher, Marmor, Gold und Edelsteine. Materialimitation in der karolingischen Buchmalerei (2021)

    Beatrice Kitzinger
  • Theresa Holler, Jenseitsbilder. Dantes Commedia und ihr Weiterleben im Weltgericht bis 1500 (2020)

    Peter Bokody
  • Timothy McCall, Brilliant Bodies. Fashioning Courtly Men in Early Renaissance Italy (2022)

    Rembrandt Duits
  • Christina Bradstreet, Scented Visions. Smell in Art, 1850–1914 (2022)

    Christian Sauer
ISSN 2701-1569
eISSN 2701-1550