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Casa Goyeneche © Diego Lama, 2007

Hybrid Identities in Urban Landscapes

Curated by Katerina Valdivia Bruch

Hybrid Identities in Urban Landscapes reflects on how urban, economic and social structures influence the work of contemporary artists. This curatorial project focuses on the hybrid identity of Peruvian culture. Peruvians mixed origins adds complexity to its social system. It also enriches it through a hybrid identity in which indigenous, European, African, Asian and US American culture establish a network of blurring identities, were none of them is hundred per cent dominant; probably that is the characteristic of Peruvian culture: a mixed identity, in which all these diverse cultural discourses are involved in a network of cultural associations.

Migration from the provinces to the capital city is part of recent Peruvian history, which has been increasing since the fifties and early sixties. This migration is involved in racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds. Lima, the capital city with almost eight million inhabitants, a speed growing megalopolis, has been the centre of the country due to its facilities in communication and access to working class economy. Other regions and cities have been rather neglected, so that most part of the country believes to find in Lima the place to grow not only in economical, but also in social terms. Racism and classicism, almost taboo themes in Peruvian culture, are expressed in education, entertainment and leisure industry, but also in mass media. For the migrants, geographical mobility means social mobility. Unfortunately, mobility, however, does not mean social acceptance. For instance, in Diego Lama's work, ethnical minorities enter luxurious spaces, but in real life they are unable to access to that luxury. Education is a privilege of the upper and middle classes, and people from European descent are still the ones who have the power and dominate the country. Migrants to the capital city have developed an informal sub-economy which helps people to survive. Nowadays, it has become part of Peruvian urban culture and is accepted as a parallel economy.

An example of how to illustrate part of this above mentioned hybrid identity is the work of Haroldo Higa. The artist depicts tradition as a means to re-size dimension of identity. Mestizo culture, religious and superstitious beliefs are the core of these sculptures. By presenting both Spanish and Andean traditions, he reflects on that beliefs can be interpreted in two ways: as a matter of faith or a matter of superstition, depending on the viewer and his or her own thoughts. In this case, simple souvenirs become a sort of super heroes to believe in.

Lima's actual urban landscape has developed a new social structure in which notions of social affiliation and community play an important role for its inhabitants, in order to establish alliances in their working environment, leisure time, as well as for family-like relations. This issue appears in Pablo Patrucco´s drawings, in which a group of construction workers and a political party are portrayed.

In the work of these artists, the hybridisation of different cultural elements coming from religion, social, economical and political grounds show critically, but also with a slightly sense of humour and intimacy a recreation of urban landscapes in Peru. The artists selected for this curatorial project are very much linked to a global international contemporary art exposure and have already presented their work in a number of international exhibitions.

International Triennale of Contemporary Art
Re-Reading the Future, National Gallery Prague

[ curatorial text ]

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