The Center for Latin American Studies
Natalia Majluf—The Scene of Approximation
The Scene of Approximation: Francisco Laso’s "Pascana" Series and the Creation of the Andean World
Natalia Majluf, Tinker Visiting Professor in Art History
The lecture explores aspects of Creole approximations to the “Andean world” through a close reading of the Pascanas (resting places in the Peruvian Andes), a series of three major works by Peruvian painter Francisco Laso (1823–1869) that mark a decisive transformation in the long history of vindications of the indigenous population: the shift from social and political arguments to cultural definitions. Laso’s paintings visually materialize the emerging rhetoric of indigenism, a complex discursive formation that transformed the abstract Indian into a national ideal while simultaneously placing the indigenous population at a distance. The lecture explores the ways in which the Pascanas turn pictorial space into the scene of an imaginary encounter between a bourgeois subject and the indigenous population. It shows how indigenism departs from the supposition of a prior separation and how its rise to the stature of a national myth was built on a particular rhetorical strategy of approximation and simultaneous distancing to an unchanging and hypostatized Andean world.
Natalia Majluf was director of the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI) from 2000–2018, where she developed and oversaw a rigorous lineup of nearly 150 exhibitions of Peruvian and international art, and recently held the Simón Bolívar Chair in Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge. Majluf has authored or coauthored 11 museum catalogues and significant essays on nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Peruvian art. This talk is based on her forthcoming book, Inventing Indigenism: Francisco Laso’s Image of Modern Peru (UT Press, 2021).
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Image Details: Francisco Laso, Pascana in the Cordillera (Resting Place in the Cordillera), ca. 1860. Oil on canvas, 126 x 194.5 cm. Club Nacional, Lima. Photograph by Daniel Glannoni.