Indigenisms 2. The return of Indigenousness in the 1970s and 1980s

Mariana Botey in conversation with Elisa Fuenzalida

Activity cancelled due to reasons beyond our control
Activity inside the programme:

Indigenisms. Art and Difference in Latin America (1919–1979–2019)

Organized by
Museo Reina Sofía
Jesús Ruiz Durand. Afiche Lorenzo Chamorro Anaya, 1972
Jesús Ruiz Durand. Afiche Lorenzo Chamorro Anaya, 1972

Activity cancelled due to reasons beyond our control

The reappearance of Native Americanness as a displacement and break-away from a modernity in crisis in 1970s and 1980s Latin American art is the subject of this encounter, made up of a lecture by Mexican artist and theorist, Mariana Botey, followed by a conversation with Peruvian researcher and feminist activist, Elisa Fuenzalida.

Indigenisms constitute a horizontal movement combining the construction of social issues and the political sphere with matters of agency and indigenous representation, in addition to being a historical avant-garde movement which activated artistic practices as proponents of the multi-ethnic configuration of Latin American societies. A significant number of the artistic episodes that emerged in this territory in the 1970s and 1980s sought to place the Amerindian continent inside a common art history, thereby developing, displacing, constructing and deconstructing its history of violence and colonial domination.

Latin American neo-avant-garde movements would become fierce critics of the relocation of the figure of the other in social and historical discourses as they looked to set forth an alternative narrative from critical negativity. That is, from a place in which the subject erased or nullified by modernity and history (the woman, the indigenous person, the agrarian, the counterculture, Negritude, the lesbian, the feminist, the queer, the poof, the transsexual, the anarchist, the Zapatista, the rebel, the indigenous activist) becomes the main axis of a re-reading and/or critical displacement. These counter-narratives enable artistic and cultural practices in Latin America to be reconsidered. At the end of the Cold War, indigenisms unfolded inside militant and popular art rooted in the fight for territories and the autonomy of indigenous communities in the Americas, with the return at this juncture in history of the marginalised indigenous subject as a response to a performative cross-dressing of the cultural other (the indigenous), manifested as fantasy or fiction in the subject and, in many respects, as the construction of a radical and emancipated subject.


Mariana Botey is an artist, theorist and curator. She holds a PhD in Visual Studies from the University of California, Irvine (2010), and is a professor of Modern/Contemporary Latin American Art History in the Visual Arts Department at the same university in San Diego. Her experimental documentaries have been screened in the Guggenheim Museum and The Anthology Film Archives (both in New York), Museo Carrillo Gil (Mexico City), the RedCat Theater (Los Angeles), and Museo Reina Sofía, among other art centres, galleries and festivals. She is also the co-editor of Fantasma, Fetiche, Fantasmagoría: Ensayos en Estética y Emancipación (Siglo XXI, 2014) and the author of Zonas de Disturbio: espectros del México indígena en la modernidad (Siglo XXI, 2014). Since 2009, she has worked as a founding member of the editorial and curatorial committee of El Espectro Rojo, an international network that studies the critical intersections and contemporary presence of indigenism.

Elisa Fuenzalida is a researcher, writer and activist. Her work analyses the relationships between sexuality, gender, violence and colonialism, in addition to the ties and displacements between memory and diaspora in different ‘sudaka’ (South American) immigrant collectives in Madrid. Her publications include Buscando la felicidad de manera equivocada (Honolulu Books, 2013) and Parásitos (Libros del Autoengaño, 2014).