Smithsonian Center for Lation Initiatives
The Interpretation and Representation of Latino Cultures: Research and Museums Conference Documentation
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Guerra Vazquez, Gustavo Adolfo

Challenging Traditional Curatorial Practices

Historicizing Narratives

Borders and Diasporas

Aesthetics Beauty

The Body: The Real and the Symbolic

All Abstracts



Re-Presenting Violence and Latin@-“American” Identity: Elia Arce’s performances and Robert Karimi’s “Self-the Remix”

One of the art forms used more frequently to present and represent Latino culture and identity is performance art.  This presents a challenge to museums because performance art is not as easily collected or archived as other art forms.  Nonetheless, Latino artists increasingly employ performance art in order to re-present and interpret Latino identity.  Performance artists of Central American descent, such as Elia Arce and Robert Karimi, continually push the boundaries of representations of Latino/a identity through works that are held both within and outside of museums.  Arce and Karimi produce work directly tied to a Latino/a identity as well as specific Central American experiences as (im)migrants and populations that have settled in the United States.  One of the themes that resonates in Latino and Latina performance art, particularly in Arce and Karimi’s respective performances, has been “violence.”  In their respective performance “pieces” both Arce and Karimi re-present some of the different types of violence that Latinos and Latinas are subjected to as first and second generation "Americans," by addressing issues such as violence against women and nativist violence.     

This presentation will be important in bringing up a theme that has been previously portrayed in artistic methods easily included in museum collections, but now being explored through different media which as mentioned before is more complex to collect and exhibit in a museum setting.  These performance artists’ performances within museums and outside of them also bring up the issue of whether certain feelings and experiences, such as “violence,” are collectable and what spaces they can be presented in.

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