Visiting Research Fellow
Sebastián Eduardo Dávila’s research project connects the concept of syncretism to contemporary art production and artists from the Americas. What understanding of syncretism needs to be crafted in order to do justice to the entangled histories, as well as to the spirit and intention embedded in art practices where Indigenous and Afro-Diasporic saberes (“wisdom, knowledges”) are transmitted under dominant idioms, like contemporary art formats and further conventions in biennials, art fairs, and museums? While on the CVC fellowship, Eduardo Dávila will follow the intuition that in various art contexts, a syncretic operation is at stake that contradicts understandings of syncretism as fusion or synthesis, instead inscribing loss, as well as transmission through hidden gestures. These gestures are invisible, but they might become perceivable, for instance when performed less in exhibitions than in—oftentimes experimental—rituals. This modality of syncretism opens the possibility to mourn the loss of saberes throughout histories of colonial and national-state impositions, dispossessions and appropriations, and it cannot be systematised, but needs to be activated and experienced. The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology offers an ideal setting for this endeavour, not least because of some of the few objects collected and their documented and hidden histories, but because of the institution’s commitment to Indigenous perspectives, as well as to contemporary art production. The fellowship is meant to be the beginning of a broader, post-doctoral project on syncretism and contemporary art of the Americas for which the graduate seminar, screening and lecture will represent the first concrete output.
Image: Courtesy of Edgar Calel and Fernando Pereira and Proyectos Ultravioleta.