"Polo S: Reorienting the Visual Culture of the Early Americas"

Organized by Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, History of Art, University of Pennsylvania.

In 1936 and 1943, the Uruguayan artist Joaquin Torres García made two related
drawings both of which depict the continent of South America from a southern
perspective. With the cardinal direction of “Polo S” written across the top of
the continent, the artist implored his modernist contemporaries in the Southern
Cone to reconsider their perspective on the geographic location of the
contemporary avant garde impulse. By invoking Torres García’s radical move,
this international and interdisciplinary conference takes as its mission an
exploration of the theoretical, regional, methodological, and subjective
problems encountered by scholars who are currently working on the "early"
visual and material culture of the southern United States, the Caribbean, and
South America. It is therefore an attempt to identify the shared challenges
that researching and writing about objects produced in these locations prior to
1850 might present in a moment of de-centered intellectual discourse, not unlike
the one that Torres García critiqued in the middle of the last century.



FRIDAY, APRIL 13, McNeil Center for Early American Studies

3:30pm - 5:00pm, KEYNOTE   Marcus Wood, University of Sussex   "Exploding Archives: Slavery in the Americas and the Limits of Recoverability, Some Thoughts Outside the Box"

5:00pm - 7:00pm, RECEPTION   Arthur Ross Gallery, 34th Street, Inside the Fisher Fine Arts Library.


SATURDAY, APRIL 14, McNeil Center for Early American Studies

9:00am - 9:30am: COFFEE

9:30am - 11:00am: SESSION ONE

Dennis Carr, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston   "Asia and the New World: Global Exchange and Artistic Influence in the Colonial Americas"

Mónica Domínguez Torres, University of Delaware   "Visualizing the Americas Upside Down and Inside Out: The Indigenous Subject as Agent"

11:00am - 11:15am: COFFEE

11:15am - 1:00pm: SESSION TWO   

Regina Root, College of William & Mary   "Beautiful Fragments:  Women, Space and Presence in Postcolonial Argentina"

Tamara J. Walker, University of Pennsylvania   "Pancho Fierro and the Color of Elegance in Nineteenth-Century Lima, Peru."

1:00pm - 2:30pm   LUNCH

2:30pm - 4:30pm   SESSION THREE

Maurie McInnis, University of Virginia   "The High Price of Virginian Luxuries"

Charmaine Nelson, McGill University   "Sugar Cane, Slaves and Ships: Nineteenth-century Landscape Art as Pro-Slavery Discourse"

Amanda Bagneris, Tulane University   "Ambiguous Bodies and the Reading of Race in the Paintings of Agostino Brunias"

4:30pm - 6:00pm   RECEPTION


The symposium is funded by grants from the University of Pennsylvania’s Mellon Initiative for Cross-Cultural Contacts and the Terra Foundation for American Art and is supported by the History of Art Department, Africana Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, and the Arthur Ross Gallery.