Unlikely Journal for Creative Arts

José María Velasco’s Pastoral Landscapes and the Politics of Seeing: Technologies of Colonial Violence in Indigenous Geographies

In this essay I address the complexities of the political geography of race in Mexico by discussing the research processes and methodologies used in the making of my video installation ‘Portrait of a Nation’. Mexican landscape painter José María Velasco (1840-1912) is considered to have made geography a symbol of national identity through his artwork. His pastoral landscapes act as a mechanism for colonial subjugation, perpetuating Eurocentric artistic values, meanwhile concealing Indigenous genocide and colonial violence. Velasco’s pastoral landscapes aptly depict subjugation and colonial violence as normalized instruments of dispossession. In this essay, I examine the ways in which colonial violence has been enacted through cultural and artistic nationalistic projects, hopefully gaining a better understanding of the function of Mexican colonialism.

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victor@victor-arroyo.com