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Touch, Taste, Turn: Unleashing the Senses in the Art of the Americas

April 8, 2021 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on April 9, 2021 at 10:00 am

One event on April 10, 2021 at 11:00 am

The Annual Symposium of Latin American Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, brings together scholars and artists to share and discuss the multitude of perspectives that inform the artistic production and discourses of the region, as well as of U.S. Latino art. The event takes place each Spring and it is organized by the graduate students at the Institute, Professor Edward J. Sullivan, and invited partner institutions. With the support of the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), this two-day series of panels also feature the presence of prominent keynote speakers who are shaping the understanding of Latin American art today.

Touch, Taste, Turn: Unleashing the Senses in the Art of the Americas

The Fifth Annual Symposium of Latin American Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, the Graduate Center, and Columbia University: Presented by the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA)

This symposium will be held entirely online. Speakers will share short pre-recorded presentations three weeks before the event so that attendees can view the presentations on their own time. Panel discussions on April 9th will be dedicated to Q&A only. The keynote talks and performance will be presented live with reserved time for Q&A.

In order to access the presentations and to receive the link for the symposium events, please register here:

Thursday, April 8, 2021 *Times in EDT
6:00pm–7:30pm María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Keynote Talk and Q&A
“Trance/Senses. Performativity: A Conversation with María Magdalena Campos-Pons”

Friday, April 9, 2021 *Times in EDT
11:00am–12:35pm: Panel Discussions 1 and 2
2:00pm–3:35pm: Panel Discussions 3 and 4

Saturday, April 10, 2021 *Times in EDT
12:00pm–1:30pm Claire Tancons, Keynote Talk and Q&A
“Mangrove as Muse: Sensing the Skin of the Unseen (Reflections on an African Diasporic Sensorium)”

1:30pm–2:00pm: Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro, Performance and Q&A
“A cambonagem em um incêndio inevitável”

Cultural and artistic practices that engage with multiple senses (e.g. sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch, and beyond) have a long history in the Americas. Indigenous civilizations and Afro-diasporic communities have developed artifacts and practices that promote forms of knowledge grounded in presence, materiality, and sensorial perception. Examples include Andean quipus or knotted cords used to communicate information, Haitian Vodun visual and ritualistic practices summoning sensorial and spiritual energies, and seventeenth-century Tupinambá ceremonial feather capes. These legacies continue to inspire artists today, such as Cecilia Vicuña, who produces environments that evoke quipus; María Magdalena Campos-Pons, whose mixed-media works incorporate bodily interventions and soundscapes; and Guadalupe Maravilla, whose performances explore movement and the experience of migration.

With these precedents in mind, this year’s iteration of the symposium will bring together interdisciplinary and cross-temporal scholarship focusing on objects and practices by makers and artists in the Americas that engage in multisensorial experiences. By placing an emphasis on multiple senses and their interrelation, the event will draw upon and expand on the “sensory turn,” an approach more commonly associated with disciplines such as anthropology, history, and cultural studies since the late 1980s. Unleashing the senses poses important challenges to art history, a discipline founded on the privileging of sight, by underscoring the role of multiple senses in the creation of meaning.

Our event will recall previous undertakings by art historians and critics in the Americas who have embraced the sensorial to analyze or theorize Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx art. Examples range from Brazilian poet Ferreira Gullar’s 1959 Manifesto Neoconcreto to Nuyorican artist Raphael Montañez Ortiz’s multimedia pedagogical projects in the 1970s, as well as the 1981 “Primer Coloquio Latinoamericano de Arte No Objetual y de Arte Urbano” in Medellín. Anticipating the “sensory turn,” these efforts brought attention to practices previously undervalued in art history such as vernacular music and culture, self-taught arts and crafts, and performance.

Inspired by the rich and diverse artistic and historiographical production of the Americas, this event revolves around questions such as: What does a multisensorial approach bring to the understanding of Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx art? Conversely, what does the production of those regions bring to the understanding of multisensorialism? What strategies can artists and scholars adopt to complicate the sense of sight? How are sensorial experiences conditioned by social, cultural, and historical variables, and how can they help us understand those variables? How does a multisensorial model put pressure on art history? How can museums and cultural institutions promote experiences that go beyond visuality?

With Keynote Lectures by María Magdalena Campos-Pons, artist and Professor of Fine Arts, Cornelius Vanderbilt Endowed Chair of Fine Arts, Vanderbilt University, and Claire Tancons, writer and curator. The symposium will close with an original work by performance artist Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro.

The symposium is coordinated by Professors Edward J. Sullivan, Helen Gould Sheppard Professor in the History of Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; Anna Indych-López, Professor of 20th-Century Latin American and Latinx Art at the Graduate Center, CUNY; Katherine Manthorne, Professor of Modern Art of the Americas at the Graduate Center, CUNY; Lisa Trever, Lisa and Bernard Selz Associate Professor in Pre-Columbian Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University; Alexander Alberro, Virginia Bloedel Wright ’51 Professor of Art History, Barnard College; and Kellie E. Jones, Hans Hofmann Professor of Modern Art, Columbia University. The symposium is organized by current Ph.D. Candidates Francesca Ferrari, Tie JojimaHoracio RamosJulián Sánchez González, and Gwen Unger, and Ph.D. Student Juan Gabriel Ramírez Bolívar.


April 8, 2021
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Event Category: