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Between the mid-1970s and the late 1980s in Latin America, influential new literature on colonialism and the so-called underdevelopment of the region, along with a wave of United States–backed military dictatorships, prompted many artists to think critically about what it meant to be Latin American. “The role of the artist is a cultural communicant, an activating aesthetic anthropologist,” Juan Downey wrote in 1973.

Opposing the association of modernity with internationalism, Downey and other artists looked to local and Indigenous cultures, exploring questions of belonging and heritage through research and travel and using vernacular materials and techniques. This inward turn defined a cultural moment that in many ways anticipated the decolonial and ecological thinking of artists today.

18 works online


Installation images

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