Putting the light on inequalities

Olinda Silvano and Wilma Maynas painting the The San Isidro Mural. | Photo courtesy of Municipality of San Isidro, Lima

UBC’s Museum of Anthropology (MOA) introduces Arts of Resistance: Politics and the Past in Latin America in May.

It’s going to be an uncomfortable show,” says the curator, Laura Osorio Sunnucks, PhD, who believes that this is an exhibition that will turn heads and shed light on something that the community, nation and world need to start to call for action against.

Arts of Resistance: Politics and the Past in Latin America aims to throw the light on human rights violations and highlight the disparities. The exhibition will run from May 17–Oct. 8 to highlight the political realities that are faced by Latin American communities.

Contemporary art by rural and indigenous peoples

The exhibition will explore the links between colonial and contemporary political forces and popular culture.

“In Arts of Resistance, the art of peoples who have largely been excluded from mainstream national culture and society are placed at the centre,” says Sunnucks.

Visitors will be able to see huipiles, for example, a traditional Mesoamerican dress that has come to communicate solidarity with Indigenous issues. These huipiles embody the continuity and innovation in ancestral artistic practice and so are a symbolic statement that resistance comes in different forms.

“The exhibition is mostly ethnographic contemporary art, made by rural or Indigenous Peoples,” she says.

The MOA exhibition offers a new style in its approach to presenting artworks, potentially influencing the way Latin American art and culture are currently showcased in museums and art galleries.

“[It will be a] maze-like experience, where they are left to discover art forms that are not well known outside of Latin America,” says Sunnucks. “Visitors will move around the exhibition as outsiders, as they learn about the political turmoil and problems facing marginalized communities from across Latin America, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, El Salvador, Ecuador and Chile.”

A myriad of events planned

Laura Osorio Sunnucks, curator of Arts of Resistance: Politics and the Past in Latin America

The museum will host several events in association with the latest exhibition including a launch event with special guests, a curatorial tour and a stencil workshop.

The first event takes place on Thursday May 17 with free admission and includes entry to the new exhibition that features fresh material from Sunnucks’ own personal research in rural towns in Mayan-speaking Mexico and Guatemala.

Two multisensory installations will be featured as well: a mural painted on-site by a women’s art collective from the Amazonian Shipibo-Konibo diaspora in Lima, Peru and a live performance by Olinda Silvano and Silvia Ricopa, who will sing and record as they paint.

Silvano and Ricopa, who are associated with the Shipibo-Konibo Research and Graphic Workshop Centre, are known for the Kenédesign mural which helped to raise funds following the destruction of more than 400 homes in their community in 2016.

For the second installation on May 19, the museum will host a stencillingworkshop with Lapiztola, a Oaxacan Art collective who will introduce stencils as a tool in street art and social engagement. The hands-on workshop will teach the techniques used to treat and reproduce digitally printed images.

Sunnucks will lead the first curatorial tour of the exhibition on May 20. Her talk will focus on the way exhibits can express outrage and engage with injustice. Guests can meet the curator, ask questions and leave knowing more about the relationship between cultural heritage and contemporary realities in Latin America.

Sunnucks feels that Arts of Resistance: Politics and the Past in Latin America will twist and alter the representation of Latin American arts.

“[It will] tell contemporary stories in a fresh way,” she says.

For more information, please visit www.moa.ubc.ca.