The Body Says, I Am a Fiesta: The Figure in Latin American Art

Javier Silva-Meinel (Peruvian, born 1949) El Hombre Araña, Qoyllur Rit’i, Cuzco, Peru (Spider Man, Qoyllur Rit’i, Cuzco, Peru), 1993

Largely drawn from the Norton’s permanent collection, this exhibition addresses ideas about the body and its symbolic and societal implications in modern Latin American cultures. The Body Says, I Am a Fiesta presents paintings, photography, sculpture, and works on paper by artists active in Latin America and the United States between the 1930s and 2010s such as Diego Rivera, Ana Mendieta, Rufino Tamayo, and María Magdalena Campos-Pons. Collectively, the artworks explore differing approaches to figural representation to exemplify the universal elements of the body as well as the external forces acting upon it.

The exhibition’s title also recognizes these external factors and originates from a book of short stories and folklore by Uruguayan journalist, writer, and novelist Eduardo Galeano (1940-2015). The book, Walking Words, includes a recurrent sequence of maxims Galeano called “Windows” and his “Window on the Body” illustrates the conflicting ways institutions regard, study, exploit, and extol the human body:

“The church says: The body is a sin.
Science says: The body is a machine.
Advertising says: The body is a business.
The body says: I am a fiesta.”

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