A tradition that normally takes place in private homes or at candle-lit cemetery sites was transformed this year by the silver screen – specifically the James Bond film Spectre.
“Day of the Dead is always something in Mexico City that is celebrated, though in a more serious way,” Enrique de la Madrid, the country’s tourism secretary, told the Guardian. “It’s a deeply rooted tradition in Mexico, but what we decided to do is a festival.”
The city government and Mexican tourism officials were inspired by parts of last year’s Bond film, which were filmed in Mexico City and featured 007 chasing a villain through a Day of the Dead celebration in the historical centre.
The official parade on Saturday attracted thousands of people with its full spectacle of skulls and skeletons, oceans of marigolds and catrinas (stylised skeleton costumes depicting high-society figures).
“It’s great that we can celebrate and remember our deceased loved ones,” said Jesús Arreola, 21, a brewery worker who was strolling along the parade route.
Day of the Dead dates back to the Aztec period and celebrants believe the spirits of their deceased loved ones return for a visit. Families build altars adored with photographs, votive candles and items the deceased enjoyed such as food and drink – even tequila or mezcal.
Day of the Dead has remained popular despite predictions the US import of Halloween would wipe it out.
But Saturday’s parade did not go down well with everyone. Some on social media pointed to it as another populist pitch from a local government famous for opening the world’s biggest ice rink, building urban beaches and having a fetish for setting world records such as taking the biggest ever selfie.
“This is a cheap stunt,” tweeted Esteban Illades, editor of the magazine Nexos. “They film James Bond here and now we have the ‘traditional Day of the Dead parade’.Let’s see what happens when (the mayor) finishes reading The Da Vinci Code.”
The parade came as Mexico approaches the 11th the year of its crackdown on drug cartels and organised crime, a conflict that has cost an estimated 150,000 lives.
Shawn Haley, a Canadian who lives in southern Oaxaca state, and studies Day of the Dead, sayid the tradition had been evolving since 2000, when he started seeing parades and processions. He predicted it would continue its transformation into a less spiritual occasion, especially in urban areas.
“We are seeing the transition from a private family celebration with folks who truly believed the dead family members returned home to a much more community oriented event [which] has removed much of the sincere belief,” Haley said.
“In the smaller villages, the private family celebration of the Day of the Dead goes on … and family is what keeps the Day of the Dead going.”
David Agren in Mexico City
From the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910 to the aftermath of World War II, artists and intellectuals in Mexico were at the center of a great debate about their country’s destiny. The exhibition tells the story of this exhilarating period through a remarkable range of images, from masterpieces by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamayo to transfixing works by their contemporaries Dr. Atl, María Izquierdo, Roberto Montenegro, Carlos Mérida, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, and many others.Paint the Revolution offers a deep look at the forces that shaped modern art in Mexico, the progress of which was closely watched around the world. The exhibition takes its name from an impassioned essay by American novelist John Dos Passos, who saw Mexico’s revolutionary murals during a visit to Mexico City in 1926–27.In addition to featuring portable murals, easel paintings, photographs, prints, books, and broadsheets, the exhibition will display murals by the Tres grandes (Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros) in digital form.The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents this landmark exhibition in partnership with the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Drawn from US and Mexican collections, it is the most comprehensive exhibition of Mexican modernism to be shown in the United States in more than seven decades.
For more information (exhibition catalog, Philadelphia Museum collection of Mexican art, exhibition video) please click here.
ALAA COMPETITIVE AWARD
Competition for the 2017 Book Award
The Association of Latin American Art, an affiliate of the College Art Association, announces its Seventeenth Annual Book Award for the best scholarly book published on the art of Latin America from the Pre-Columbian era to the present. The award is generously funded by the Arvey Foundation and consists of a citation and a $1,000 honorarium. We will present the award at the annual meeting of the College Art Association in New York in February 2017. The name of the recipient will appear in the newsletters of both ALAA and CAA.
For the February 2017 Award, we will evaluate books on Latin American Art from Pre- Columbian to the present that meet the following criteria:
Questions may be addressed to Dr. Charlene Villaseñor Black, Department of Art History, 100 Dodd Hall, 405 Hilgard Ave., University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095 email@example.com.
Dear ALAA Members,
Please see below for details on our session for LASA2017. The deadline for abstract submissions is Sept. 4th. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions and please circulate this call to anyone who may be interested.
Thanks and best,
Lesley Wolff, Florida State University
Call for Papers, LASA 2017
Lima, Peru, April 29 – May 1
Session Title: Visual Literacies in Contemporary Latin America: Post-Resistance?
Sub Track: Art, Architecture and Visual Culture
Deadline: September 4, 2016
Session Abstract: Building upon Beyond the Lettered City’s significant contribution to Latin American art history, this session encourages further dialogue about visual literacies, the production of viewing publics, and new socio-economic boundaries in contemporary Latin American visual culture. In response to the colonial dynamics of oppression and mimesis that persist and evolve in tandem with art market forces, this session considers vernacular visual and material tactics through which contemporary makers subvert political hegemony. By complicating how and to what ends folk arts, heritage processes, foodways, and other unconventional visual literacies intervene into the institutionalized socio-political landscape, this session explores the means by which such practices complicate and break down colonial dynamics.
Sobre la base de la importante contribución de Beyond the Lettered City a la historia del arte latinoamericano, esta sesión busca continuar el diálogo acerca de los conocimientos visuales, la producción de públicos, y los nuevos límites socioeconómicos en la cultura visual de América Latina. En respuesta a las dinámicas coloniales de opresión y mímesis que persisten y evolucionan en tándem con las fuerzas del mercado del arte, esta sesión considera las tácticas visuales y materiales vernáculas a través de las cuales los creadores contemporáneos subvierten la hegemonía política. Analizando desde una perspectiva compleja cómo y para qué las artes populares, los procesos del patrimonio, las costumbres alimenticias, y otros conocimientos visuales poco convencionales intervienen en el panorama socio-político institucionalizado, esta sesión explora los medios por los cuales estas prácticas de las dinámicas coloniales complejizan y descomponen las dinámicas coloniales.
Paper Topics May Include (as they pertain to contemporary Latin America):
Please submit an abstract (in English or Spanish) of no more than 250 words to Lesley Wolff (firstname.lastname@example.org) by September 4, 2016. For LASA2017 submission guidelines, please see: https://lasa.international.pitt.edu/eng/congress/guidelines.asp
In 1961, Che Guevara outlined a key strategy for implementing counterinsurgency: “the principal source of provision for the guerrilla force is precisely in the enemy armaments.” This mandate—to steal your enemy’s weapons—appeared in Guerrilla Warfare, a manual designed to assist small oppositional bands across the globe in potential uprisings against colonial, neocolonial, and dictatorial governments. Guevara’s methods were also quickly adapted for artistic and cultural production. Since the 1960s, artists have appropriated the literal and figurative weaponry of their adversaries to intervene in asymmetrical power structures. This panel invites papers that examine how artists have incorporated and reinvented enemy armaments in order to expose or challenge the governmental, financial, societal, and art-world institutions that seem to possess limitless power. We seek to investigate the very notion of ammunition, encompassing the representation of artillery in art and visual culture, as well as more expansive metaphors of armed propaganda, shooting/being shot (photographically), historical misfiring, and caliber/morality. Papers may also consider how artworks have constructed legible enemies, opened up dialogue about race and injustice, and operated under conditions of being outmanned, outgunned, and up in arms. Additionally, we are interested in papers that confront our current landscape of violence, the polarizing rhetoric surrounding gun ownership, and the ways in which the possession or appropriation of artillery has been instrumentalized to protect mythologies of American exceptionalism.
Proposals are due August 30.
Please see the CAA Call for Participation for detailed submission guidelines:
Summer, for me, always evokes the reading lists of childhood. I think of reading competitions and heading to the library to check out something new before the school year begins. If you’re looking for a good summer read before the syllabi beckon, here are a few fiction options from one of last year’s reviews: The Guardian’s Review of 2015’s Best Latin American Books.
At the top of my “to do” pleasure reading list is a work by the author Paco Ignacio Taibo II. I think I’ll start with The Uncomfortable Dead, a work reportedly co-written with Subcomandante Marcos, the former leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Taibo’s central character is a one-eyed private investigator who marvels at the street life that surrounds him in Mexico City. NPR conducted an interview with the author in 2012, found here.
What is at the top of your summer reading list? Do you have a shining recommendation?
Association for Latin American Art (ALAA)
The Evolving Canon: Collecting and Displaying Spanish Colonial Art
Chair(s): Ilona Katzew, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Ellen Dooley, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Email(s): email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
This panel seeks to critically address the place of Spanish colonial art within the larger canon of art history through the lens of collecting and display. Despite a long-held interest among collectors in Spanish colonial art, it has only been in the last two decades or so that museums, universities, and the art market have seriously engaged with the material. Spanning a wide chronological range—from the early modern period to the present—this panel will explore the history of collecting Spanish colonial art globally, and how interest in the field is actively shifting the art historical canon and the ways we look at this period of artistic production. How have collectors, both individual and corporate, influenced trends and tastes? How do we classify and categorize artists not traditionally considered mainstream? Has growing access to objects and scholarship affected perceived notions of quality and authorship? How do scholars navigate this quickly expanding field of inquiry? Possible topics may include historiographical ones addressing the history of collecting Spanish colonial art in the Americas, Europe, and Asia; theoretical ones dealing with notions of connoisseurship and the evolving canon; valorizations of the material (current and past) and the implications of these assessments for the future of the field. Case studies as well as broader historical contributions are welcome, as well as papers that look at a wide range of media—paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, textiles, and so forth.
Potential Subject Areas:
1) Art History-Latin American/Caribbean Art; 2) Interdisciplinary-Museum Studies/Curatorial Studies/Art Criticism
Open Session for Emerging Scholars of Latin American Art
Chair(s): Elisa C. Mandell, California State University, Fullerton; Ana Mannarino, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Email(s): elisaCmandell@gmail.com; email@example.com
Each year increasing numbers of scholars are awarded doctoral degrees in Latin American art history. This session seeks to highlight the scholarship of advanced graduate and recent Ph.D. scholars. Papers may address any geographic region, theme, or temporal period related to the study of Latin American art or art history, including Caribbean, Central American, and Latinx topics.
Potential Subject Areas:
1) Art History-Latin American/Caribbean Art; 2) Art History-Pre-Columbian Art
Proposals for papers are due to session chairs by August 30, 2016. See the 2017 linked below for full instructions.
See the full 2017 Call for Participation for more panels.
Gaspar Miguel del Berrío (Bolivian, 1706-1764)
Our Lady of Mount Carmel with Bishop Saints, ca. 1764
Oil on canvas, h. 38 1/2 in. (97.8 cm); w. 33 1/6 in. (83.9 cm)
Roberta and Richard Huber Collection
Photograph by Graydon Wood, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Highest Heaven, opening at the San Antonio Museum of Art on June 11, explores the paintings, sculpture, furniture, ivories and silverworks of the Altiplano, or high plains, of South America in the 18th century. Through the work of both well-regarded masters and lesser-known artists, Highest Heaven highlights the role of art in the establishment of new city centers in the Spanish Empire, and the propagation of the Christian faith among indigenous peoples. Drawn exclusively from the distinguished collection of Roberta and Richard Huber, the exhibition highlights the distinct visual language created by the cultural and creative exchanges that occurred between Spain and Portugal and their South American colonies. The exhibition will remain on view through September 4, 2016, before traveling to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California in October, and to the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts the following March.
The exhibition features more than 100 works, including religious paintings, carved and gilded wooden sculptures, intimate ivories, and silverwork, originally housed in ecclesiastical and private collections throughout the former colonial possessions of Spain and Portugal. The majority of these works were created for functional purposes, as articles of faith or symbols of civic order, and were displayed in a manner that enhanced religious understanding, brought social order, and spurred conversion among colonial populations. Highest Heaven examines these uses, focusing in particular on the translation of Christian imagery to the colonies and the ways in which these works and objects worked to establish an ordered society and were integrated into religious life. The exhibition includes approximately 20 recent acquisitions by the Hubers, many of which have never before been seen in a museum exhibition. [. . .]
Highlights from the exhibition, include: