Over the past two decades, Portugal’s colonial rule in Asia, South America, and Africa has been subject to increasingly intense debate both within academe and society at large. Innovative research has begun to question benign and Euro-centric approaches to the Portuguese imperial past and has now arrived at profoundly different views which expose the violent and exploitative character of colonial rule.
This set of new perspectives on Portugal’s colonial past, however, is also the result of an unprecedented involvement of activists and civic groups in public debate. One important example are the Associations of Portuguese of African descent, which campaign against still-prevailing forms of celebrating the Portuguese colonial past. These include the recent decision to create a ‘Museum of Discovery’ dedicated to Portugal’s maritime glory, or the monument dedicated to the Jesuit missionary António Vieira.
Scholarly revision and community activism both face hostile opposition. This talk discusses the main developments in an ongoing debate that continues to intensify, and that in itself highlights the importance of fostering critical debate about Portugal’s colonial past.
Professor Pedro Cardim’s main area of research is the history of the early modern Iberian world, with a focus on the interactions between Portugal and the Spanish Monarchy. He also works on the Portuguese colonial empire and the early modern Atlantic world. He has published numerous books and articles, including Portugal y la Monarquía Hispánica, ca.1550–ca.1715 (2017) and Polycentric Monarchies: How Did Early Modern Spain and Portugal Achieve and Maintain a Global Hegemony? (2012, with Tamar Herzog, Gaetano Sabatini and José Javier Ruiz Ibáñez). He has held visiting professorships at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, New York University, Université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès, and Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Seville).
Please join us for an informal welcome meeting, which will take place on Thursday 10 October, 2019, at 6:00pm in Room 209 in Gordon House, 29 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0PP (at UCL, but just outside the main campus: click here for directions)
This event is open to anyone interested in pre-modern Hispanic cultures, widely considered: literature and language, history, geography, art and visual culture, medical humanities, music, etc., from Iberia, the Americas, and other Spanish and Portuguese colonies and communities. PhD candidates and ECRs from London universities and beyond are especially invited.
The Maius Workshop’s organisers, Costanza Beltrami, Bert Carlstrom and Elizabeth Chant, will introduce the group and events planned for the coming academic year. It will be an opportunity to meet people with similar research interests working at other universities and departments.
If you would like to attend, please register on Eventbrite: click here.
In ‘Black but Human’ Carmen Fracchia, Reader in Hispanic Art History at Birkbeck, explores the emergence of the slave and freed slave subjects in the visual form of Imperial Spain. The book considers the links between visual regimes and early modern Spanish discourses on slavery and human diversity that are the historic roots of contemporary racism in the Hispanic world.
‘Black but Human’ is the first study to focus on the visual representations of African slaves and ex-slaves in Spain during the Hapsburg dynasty. The Afro-Hispanic proverb ‘Black but Human’ is the main thread of the six chapters and serves as a lens through which to explore how a certain visual representation of slavery both embodies and reproduces hegemonic visions of enslaved and liberated Africans, and at the same time provides material for critical and emancipatory practices by Afro-Hispanics themselves.
The African presence in the Iberian Peninsula between the late fifteenth century and the end of the seventeenth century was as a result of the institutionalization of the local and transatlantic slave trades. In addition to the Moors, Berbers and Turks born as slaves, there were approximately two million enslaved people in the kingdoms of Castile, Aragón and Portugal. The ‘Black but Human’ topos that emerges from the African work songs and poems written by Afro-Hispanics encodes the multi-layered processes through which a black emancipatory subject emerges and a ‘black nation’ forges a collective resistance. It is visually articulated by Afro-Hispanic and Spanish artists in religious paintings and in the genres of self-portraiture and portraiture. This extraordinary imagery coexists with the stereotypical representations of African slaves and ex-slaves by Spanish sculptors, engravers, jewellers, and painters mainly in the religious visual form and by European draftsmen and miniaturists, in their landscape drawings and sketches for costume books.
Click here for more information and to pre-order this book
Purpose This award provides support for travel related to research on Spanish, Portuguese, or Ibero-American architecture. The Awards The awards consist of a $2,000 fellowship for an advanced graduate student and a $6,000 fellowship for a senior or emerging scholar. The awardees will be notified in December and will be recognized at the SAH 73rd Annual International Conference in Seattle, Washington (April 29–May 2, 2020). The awards also will be announced in the May 2020 issue of the SAH Newsletter. Criteria for Application
These annual fellowships are intended to support the research of graduate students who have completed their coursework and are engaged in doctoral dissertation research, and senior or emerging scholars who have completed their PhD or equivalent terminal degree. The research to be supported must focus on Spanish, Portuguese, or Ibero-American architecture, including colonial architecture produced by the Spaniards in the Philippines and what is today the United States. The applicant must be a current member of SAH.
Reporting Requirements Following completion of travel and research supported by the fellowship, each de Montêquin Fellowship awardee must submit a written report summarizing their research and explaining what travel was undertaken and how funds were spent. The report will be submitted to the SAH office no later than three months following the completion of work related to the fellowship. Awardees are required to upload images to SAHARA (a minimum of 50 for junior scholars and a minimum of 150 for senior scholars).
Application Details You will need two recommendations to apply for this fellowship, a description of the research project on Iberian or Ibero-American architecture to be funded (500 words maximum), a current curriculum vitae (5 pages max), and a statement of purpose.
SAH is accepting applications for the 2020 Edilia and François-Auguste de Montêquin Fellowship. The application deadline is September 30, 2019.
Obedience and Defiance focuses on political and feminist themes and includes previously unseen paintings and works on paper from the artist’s family and close friends, which reflect Rego’s perspective as a woman immersed in urgent social issues and current affairs. The selection of works focuses on the moral challenges to humanity, particularly in the face of violence, gender discrimination and political tyranny. There are paintings and etchings related to children sold into slavery in North Africa (1996–98), abortion (1998–2000) and female genital mutilation (from 2009). Many of the images begin with the artist’s Portuguese roots and childhood experiences or respond to current affairs. This will be the first ever exhibition in Britain to present the paintings Rego made in the 1960s during the regime of the dictator Salazar.
Curated by the former director of London’s Whitechapel Gallery, Catherine Lampert, and organised by MK Gallery (Milton Keynes), the exhibition includes over 80 works. A major new publication will accompany the exhibition with texts by curator Catherine Lampert and the American writer and novelist Kate Zambreno, published by ART/BOOKS. Touring to Edinburgh and Dublin, the exhibition will be the first ever retrospective of Rego’s work in Scotland and Ireland.
Click here for more information on the exhibition in its current location.
The 58th Biennale of Venice opened on 11 May. Here is a
(non-comprehensive) list of Iberian and Latin American artists represented at
the exhibition, which runs until 24 November 2019, and at accompanying events.
Mexican artist Teresa Margolles was awarded a Special
Mention at the event’s opening ceremony. By shifting existing structures from
the real world into the Exhibition halls, Margolles creates sharp and poignant
works that deal with the plight of women grossly affected by the narcotics
trade in her native country. Her work Muro
Ciudad Juárez. 2010 can be found in the Biennale’s central pavilion at the
Giardini, entitled May You Live in Interesting Times and curated by Ralph
Other Latin American artists invited to participate in the Biennale’s international exhibition (split between the Giardini and Arsenale) are Jill Mulleady (born in 1980 in Uruguay), Gabriel Rico (born in 1980 in Mexico) and Tomás Saraceno (born in 1973 in Argentina).
The international exhibition is accompanied by 89 national participations. Spain’s pavilion, located at the entrance of the Giardini, showcases Perforated, a collaboration between Itziar Okariz and Sergio Prego. Through performance, video, and sound, Okariz explores the displacements between the subject, the language, and its physical presence. Prego’s sculptural works relate to architecture, calling materiality into question through the use of lightweight, flexible materials that allow the form to only exist in a specific state or as a result of a continuous action on the constituent material. Both artists reiterate the alternative functions of the body in our technified society.
Brazil’s pavilion, Swinguerra, takes its title from a combination of swingueira, a popular dance movement in the north-east of Brazil, and guerra, war. Wagner & de Burca’s work focuses on the powerful expressions of popular culture in contemporary Brazil, and their complex relationship with international and local traditions.
exhibition, La casa empática, paintings, drawings, photographs, and
mural works by Yamandú Canosa are arranged as a ‘landscape-territory’ of the
world, an inclusive and empathic ‘total landscape’. The total landscape is
completed by the intervention on the facade and by the starry sky installed in
the ceiling of the pavilion.
de las tres ventanas. Venezuela: Identidad en tiempo y espaciois the pavilion of Venezuela.
Three metaphorical windows— thresholds for light, air, and the gaze—symbolise
the long construction of collective history and an all-encompassing narrative filled
with challenges and rebellion. Venezuela aims to promote its libertarian
identity, woven over the centuries, and share it in a clear gesture of
invitation to the complicity of others.
Other national pavilions are located in the Arsenale. Argentina’s
exhibition, El nombre de un país/The Name of a Country is a punk,
Frankensteinish bestiary that flaunts a high-fashion collection attitude. Mariana
Telleria traces a highway with an infinite number of linguistic lanes,
activating confusion—mixing things together, building monsters—and sustaining
viewers’ awareness in a continual state of transit.
Pavilion, Altered Views, Voluspa Jarpa offers a proposal for
decolonisation through a review of European history. Altered Views
comprises three reversed cultural spaces/models: the Hegemony Museum,
the Subaltern Portrait Gallery, and the Emancipating Opera. The
project collects concepts that defined colony: race and cross-breeding,
subordinate male subjects, cannibalism, gender, civilisation and barbarism,
monarchy and republic, appealing to a critical view from a transtemporal
Mexicois represented by Actos de dios/Acts of God by Pablo
Vargas Lugo. This exhibition which speculates on the life of Christ to generate
a non-linear narrative that raises new questions. What would happen if the man
who was chosen to redeem humanity had set out to fulfil all the predictions
made by the prophets about his life without being certain that he could
“Indios antropófagos”. A butterfly
Garden in the (Urban) Jungle, the exhibition of Peru,
is a paradox: a post-conceptual exploration of the fiery sensory impact of
Amazon culture on certain (neo)Baroque horizons in Peruvian art, namely in Christian
Bendayán’s work, where it is energised by a critical reconsideration of the
Amazon as a constructed image.
Other national exhibitions are dotted around Venice. In Cannaregio, the Dominican Republic presents Naturaleza y biodiversidad en la República Dominicana. This is the country’s first independent national pavilion at the Biennale. It offers a reflection on ecological threats affecting the luxuriant local nature, the Earth and humankind.
Next to the Dominican Republic is Guatemala’s
Interesting State. The term
‘interesting state’ evokes a woman who is pregnant. Acts of violence against
women constitute the denial of existence. Guatemala is an ‘interesting State’ because
of the persistence of this devastating phenomenon. Art therefore becomes an
ethical instrument, in which the seductive aesthetic nature of the works is
there to serve an indispensable social denunciation and an essential
opportunity for redemption.
Portugal’s pavilion, a seam, a surface, a hinge or a knot, features artist Leonor Antunes reflecting on the functions of everyday objects and contemplating their potential to be materialised as abstract sculptures. The artist is interested in how craftsmanship traditions from various cultures intersected in the work of Venetians such as Carlo Scarpa, Savina Masieri and Egle Trincanato. Elements of the exhibition are fabricated with Falegnameria Augusto Capovilla, one of the still-active Venetian carpentries that worked closely with Scarpa.
The Cubanpavilion, located on the island of San Servolo and entitled A cautionary environment/Entorno aleccionador brings together installations, paintings, and interdisciplinary works on allegorical themes of the times in which we live. The invited artists, Alejandro Campins, Ariamna Contino, Alex Hernández and Eugenio Tibaldi, discuss the relationship between man and the environment.
The Biennale’s programme is accompanied by a series of collateral events. Catalonia
in Venice’s To Lose
Your Head (Idols) documents the complex life of statues, which some
artists today recreate and reflect upon. This multi-authored exhibition
explores the theory of art reception and documents the complex life of public
statues in our time. In a world of images, iconoclasm and iconodulia, it questions
the fetishism of images as living entities and encourages conversations as a
way to foster human happiness, awareness and freedom.
The latest works by the
contemporary Portuguese sculptor Joana
Vasconcelos (born 1971) are being displayed under the title What
are you hiding? May you find what you are looking for at the
Venice Biennale on the island of San Clemente across the Palazzo Kempinsky
gardens and in the church of San Clemente itself, supported by the film
production company MGM. In the church the exhibition shows her large-scale
floor sculpture Madragoa (2015–2019),
inspired by Lisbon’s buildings and façades, which explores the intersections of
sculpture, architecture and painting. This piece has new elements specially
created for it since it was first shown in Macau in 2015. In the gardens
Vasconcelos is displaying I’ll be Your
Mirror #1 (2019), a giant Venetian carnival mask made of mirrors, which the
sculptor recently showed at the Guggenheim, Bilbao in a solo show. Also on show
in the gardens is Betty Boop PA
(2019), a high-heeled shoe crafted out of saucepans, which proposes a revision
of the “feminine” in today’s world by bringing together two tropes of a woman’s
private and public image.
The next meeting of the Maius Workshop will take place tomorrow,26 March, 4:30–5:30pm, in room Law G3 at QMUL (335 Mile End Rd, London E1 4FQ). Click here for a map of the Campus.
Jessica Barker, Lecturer in Medieval History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, will lead a seminar entitled Inscribing Colonialism in Fifteenth-Century Portugal. The session will consider inscriptions, readability and visibility in funerary monuments, and their intersections with early Portuguese explorations in West Africa.
Maius is a friendly platform for informal dialogue and collaborative research. Our sessions are open to all, and research in early stages of development is especially welcome. We look forward to seeing you at this event, and please feel free to email us with ideas and suggestions for future meetings.
Image: Detail of inscription on the north side of the monument to João I and Philippa of Lancaster, 1426–34. Founder’s Chapel, monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, Batalha. Photo: Jessica Barker.