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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Indigenous as an allegorical figure in Antonio Caro’s Homenaje a Manuel Quintin Lame and Cildo Meireles’ Zero Cruzeiro Gaitan, Juan Andres


This thesis will look at two works of art from the 1970s: Homenaje a Manuel Quintfn Lame (1972) by the Colombian artist Antonio Caro, and Zero Cruzeiro (1974) by the Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles. In the context of this thesis these works are linked through the reference that both make to indigenous peoples. I argue that their reference to indigenous peoples is laden with a number of complexities that derive from the wide range of political concerns that these artworks addressed. The political panoramas of Colombia and Brazil during the 1970s were primarily framed by an opposition between the peasant movements, which had a nationalist programme, and capitalist developmentalism, which had an internationalist programme. In this sense, the representation of indigenous peoples depended on the spaces they might have occupied within local political landscapes. However, in Colombia and Brazil, the emergence of indigenous organizations, and their detachment from other organisms to which their own struggle for self-determination had been hitherto tied, was an important event during the early 1970s in both Colombia and Brazil. Thus the reference to the indigenous in these works also runs parallel to what is now called a "third space" in politics at the time. I argue that, even if indirectly, these works attended to the restructuring of strategies at the level of indigenous struggles for self-determination. On a second level, I take issue with the ways in which these two works have been linked through the category Latin American Conceptualism, of which they figure today as important examples. This category has been structured around the idea that the works it represents are "more political" than the North American or European counterparts. In this thesis I question the validity of this claim on the basis of it being too superficial to be useful for expounding the complexities of the respective realities that surrounded these works at the time in which they emerged. In this sense, the reference that these works make to indigenous peoples provide an important way for approaching the specificities of the political realities outlined above, as well as a way to dislocate these works from facile generalization such as those found in categories such as Conceptualism or "Political Art."

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