Current Institutional Affiliation
Executive Director and Curator

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Art History/Architecture, University of Texas / Austin
“A Mediocre Utopia”: Artistic Interventions, Migration, and Making of Urban Publics in Lima, Peru, 1978–1989

My dissertation investigates public roles of broadly understood architectural and artistic interventions realized in Lima, Peru, between 1978 and 1989. Artistic collectives that emerged from the radicalized scene in and following 1978—Paréntesis, EPS Huayco, Los Bestias, and Taller NN—insisted on the radical redefinition of artistic publics in Peru. Their concerns exceeded the need of a formal renovation of artistic languages. They searched for new, alternative bases of support and—more importantly—aimed to reclaim the "illegitimate" and "unauthorized" publics, by drawing upon material practices of the marginalized and excluded social groups. Through a chronological study of their most important projects, I investigate how these artists understood, engaged with, and shaped the public body in the context of a volatile decade. The period of my analysis constitutes the pinnacle of a demographic explosion of Lima, which resulted from internal migrations from the Peruvian provinces, altering the social and ethnic makeup of the city. It is also the decade of immense political turmoil, ranging from struggles and enthusiasm preceding the 1980 democratic elections to violence of the Peruvian Internal Conflict (1980–2000), in which neo-Marxist guerrilla groups sought to overthrow the government. Arguably, the battle over the definition and control of the Peruvian public sphere, as well as political subjectivities that comprise it, was at the core of these social and political transformations. I hypothesize that the impetus behind my case studies was to render visible a multitude of neglected publics while forging new, self-organized, flexible collectivities. Thus, these projects challenged the monolithic body politics imposed by the modernizing nation-state and the guerilla insurgence. Methodologically, I examine how various cultural forms—texts, images, buildings, and urban space—construct their publics by shaping the flows of discourses between social agents.