Smithsonian Center for Lation Initiatives
The Interpretation and Representation of Latino Cultures: Research and Museums Conference Documentation
 home background presenters presentations highlights resources contact sitemap

The Body: The Real and the Symbolic Transcript of Discussion Session

Challenging Traditional Curatorial Practices

Historicizing Narratives

Borders and Diasporas

Aesthetics Beauty

The Body: The Real and the Symbolic

All Abstracts



MR. ZAMUDIO-TAYLOR:  We've had a most fascinating set of papers presented. We've laughed, we've heard singing, we've stretched.  We heard words about skin color and also about death.  There were references to lower body movements and the convalesce so undoubtedly we're in the domain of the body, the physicality of the body, the body of knowledge, the cultural corpus, the body of evidence, the body as a form of empowerment, the body as a form of domination, its faces in performances, the embodied language of choreography and space and style.

            And I think as important it's this body and embodied forms of knowledge and intervention within social spaces as it relates to memory, as it relates to diaspora, as it relates to mestizaje, and I think this is very important.  If one looks at the Latino and Latina body of knowledge it focused on the body as a concern.  And in fact it anticipates other subaltern and postmodern endeavors, and I think that's really, really fascinating.  And.

            I think it relates to the fact of the mestizaje as a constitutive body that includes the violence and the mixed blessing and the source of empowerment.  And I think that's why these issues that we've touched upon today are so crucial.

            I'm interested in how each of the presenters focused on their own particular areas and on the challenges that they entail or the challenges that it signifies in terms of curatorial strategies.  How does one make an exhibition about literature and about issues about this color of skin, racialization, a kind of bildungsroman of Latina identity formation and the centrality of the words or how does performance come into the exhibit given its time base and spatial constraints and restraints and forms, equally given choreography and dance and subcultural and subaltern spaces such as the dance floor of the gay club in Rochester or Austin?

            Medical evidence, social history as indexical also of oppression and empowerment and certainly also the mariachi tradition and the new technologies and new media as a form and as a source for creating spaces and for reproducing and informing about la mariachi activity.

            And, as our colleague mentioned earlier, this panel in fact does force us to think about curatorial activities beyond the visual arts and how then could we incorporate this kind of knowledge and these kinds of endeavors in, let's say, exhibits or another articulation.

            Comments or questions, please.

MS. DAVALOS:  I know we're at the end of the day but I can't help but be my cultural anthropologist and hopefully these eyes are not from the outside and sound like they are from the inside but I wanted to make two observations.

            The first is that has Jose Limon reminded us at the beginning of the conference that Latinas are at the forefront of interpretation and representation of Latino cultures, research, and museums and the activist work that goes around that and I concur with his observation.  So what that would mean for us is the next time that we convene, the next time that we get together, that women, Chicanas, Latinas, and others, women in female bodies or at least queer bodies, will be the spokespersons for such an event.

            The second observation is that although the men were in the minority for this conversation they have given us practices of knowledge that dramatically shatter the conventions of the conference culture.  Among some of these practices are Jose Limon's wit and creative writing, Estevan's decolonial narrative and multimedia, Ondine and others who use camp, Ramon's Brechtian performance of those with whom he spoke, and Gustavo's Brechtian with its interruptions, with its end quote.  And I wanted to thank the gentlemen for that instruction.  Thank you.

MS. RIVAS:  I have a response to the idea of an exhibit and modernity and it reacts to ÄÄÄÄ United States would be a very good chance to start.  Infant mortality, for example, is a marker of modernity and is another way that we find Mexico against the United States and other countries.  So between inoculations and ÄÄÄ there was as we heard on the first panel of how maternal infant care was differentiated between Mexican America and Euroamerican women ÄÄÄÄ and elsewhere the definitions of modernity ÄÄÄÄ access to medical care and mortality ÄÄÄÄ and all of this medical terminology ÄÄÄÄ would be an interesting way to begin to explore the nexus between the body of evidence, the body of knowledge, and the infant body.

MR. ZAMUDIO-TAYLOR:  Good point. And would you like to comment?

MR. RIVERA-SERVERA:  Magdalena, are you ready?

MS. MIERI:  Yes.  Thank you very much, you wonderful panelists.  We have two concurrent events following this session. The focus group on El Paso museum of Immigration is an open call to anybody that wants to participate.  The meeting will start right on in this room to my left.

            We also have a series of poster presentations, laptops, Power Point, featuring some of the most successful projects developed with the Latino initiatives pool fund.

            The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is also joining us with a presentation and also the National Museum of Natural History is presenting one of their projects.  So my excuses for this space.  We didn't really want to interrupt this going on and we're pressed with time.  So maybe as we go we'll get to talk to people and learn more about these projects.

            That will be the end of today.  I hope to see you tomorrow at 9:30 for the workshops and if you did not sign up for the workshops please join us at noon for discussion, closing remarks, and the discussion of how we continue this, what's next.  Thank you.

Copyright © 2003 Smithsonian Institution