Smithsonian Center for Lation Initiatives
The Interpretation and Representation of Latino Cultures: Research and Museums Conference Documentation
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prado, reina a.

Challenging Traditional Curatorial Practices

Historicizing Narratives

Borders and Diasporas

Aesthetics Beauty

The Body: The Real and the Symbolic

All Abstracts



Caught Between Aztlán and the River's Edge: Curatorial Practices for a Multicultural L.A.

Is there a breadth of Latinidad featured in recent art exhibitions, or are the same themes and artists being selected with no clear insight by museum curators to new directions in the field since Chicano / Latino art emerged onto the scene in 1974?  It seems that Chicano / Latino art is caught in a perpetual reflection on Aztlán.  Prado investigates Chicano / Latino art within the paradigm of the public museum and current exhibition practices to underscore the power relations inherent in these sites of cultural affirmation.  Analyses of power relations central in the sites of cultural affirmation are at the core of Prado's study.  Who is on display in the public museum exhibition?  Who is (re)membered?  Yet, an underlying question remains; can curators, art directors, and artists break free from a nepantlismo of feeling caught between Aztlán and the river's edge when curating exhibitions about Chicano / Latino art in Los Angeles?

Through an analysis of exhibitions presented 2000-01- East of the River, Just Another Poster, and Road to Aztlán - Prado queries how these shows continue to privilege particular identity discourses of Chicano / Latino art.  She argues that current curatorial practices do not acknowledge the diversity of Chicano / Latino art, as an example few artists by "Generation Ń or Generation Mex" are included.  Furthermore, she examines the curatorial aim of these projects since collectors and "community" voices could also consider them collaborations due to their participation.  She concludes by considering alternative approaches to curate for a multicultural Los Angeles by including the exhibition Tierra Incógnita, curated by Prado, which reflects upon contemporary responses to questions of identity politics through six mixed media and photographic installations.

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