Peripheries: Toro

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The “Periferies” series groups images within two main themes related to popular religiosity in Latin America, focusing on practices that are narrow in narrative topics but rich in meaning: shrines and bull-like objects.

Shrines: In Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, and in the countries of Southern Europe, there is a practice that associates violent death with purity of the soul. It is believed that people who have died violently, suffering tremendously, will go to heaven faster than ordinary people because of the great pain they have endured at the end of their lives. The souls of these “popular martyrs” are venerated as if they were canonized saints. In the places where it is believed they have died, people leave their dearest belongings i.e., the first shoe of their baby, pieces of hair, their wedding dress, etc. The site soon becomes a chaotic accumulation of everyday objects that are not ordinarily associated with what is shown as “art” in the museums. Most people do not live with art objects done by Picasso or Monet in their rooms but the kind of everyday objects they offer to their “saints” constitute their visual universe.

Bull-like objects: In the Andean regions of Bolivia and Peru, the image of the bull is used in the fertility “fiestas.” These festivals are an integration of both pagan and Church rituals. In these celebrations, a toy-like image of a bull is carried by a dancer around his/her waist. He/she dances to the music in a sort of ritual dance that occupies a marginal place in the festivity. Generally speaking, in visual and ritual terms, the bull is associated with habits, dances, and ways of living in those Andean societies that have not been completely assimilated by institutionalized practice, whether it be state, school, or Church.

The images of the shrine and the bull offer instances to reflect on the peripheral and marginal aspects of the societies in which they are produced, as well as on their ritual and visual values. These images allow a certain detachment from our own traditions and visual expectations, achieving an effect similar to the Brechtian strangement in art. They inhabit a space marginal to the “art” world and to “artistic” habits that can be fruitfully explored to examine issues of representation, on the fringes of society.