The ‘Cosmologies of the decolonial’ project seeks to understand the fundamental and pioneering role of art in the theorisation of decoloniality. Bringing together scholars, artists, and curators, the project explores how artistic practice from across Latin America has informed the decolonial turn that so characterizes contemporary scholarly thought, and reveals by extension, how such practice points to the decolonialities of tomorrow.
While much has been written on how artistic projects are informed by, or otherwise illustrate, scholarly perspectives on decoloniality, the Cosmologies project makes plain how Latin American artistic practice theorises and articulates diverse decolonialities that are dynamically reshaping the canon. Artistic and curatorial perspectives, especially those of Indigenous and Afro-Latino practitioners, reveal art as a reflexive, methodological practice, a modality of open-ended enquiry that anticipates and prefigures, located in forms of living, doing, and knowing. Contributing to debates on decoloniality as Eurocentric project, the pluriverse, and colonial temporality, the project is oriented along four axes to better understand art’s centrality: genealogies; institutions; languages; and futures. What contribution can the work of arts practitioners of indigenous, diasporic, and peripheral populations make to critical social inquiry? How can we conceptualise the reflexive practice of Latin American institutions given the colonial matrix in which their work is situated? What are the languages that artists provide for thinking about the relation between objects and spectators, communities and knowledge, theory and practice? How can such languages prefigure the decolonialities of tomorrow, and by extension, what might Latin American art as theoretical corpus contribute to future global debates?

The project is fundamentally collaborative and counts on myself, the art historian María Iñigo Clavo, and the curators Beatriz Lemos, and Florencia Portocarrero. We wish to challenge the preponderance of perspectives on art oriented from North American and Eurocentric perspectives by highlighting the specific contributions of scholars and practitioners of indigenous, diasporic, and peripheral populations. We aim to address where debates surrounding decoloniality originate from, where they are currently located and where they are heading to in the future. Through an understanding of decoloniality as one constituted by plural perspectives, our project places curatorial and artistic practice at the heart of academic discourse, reinforcing the notion that art is fundamental to the creation of knowledge.

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Alex Ungprateeb Flynn is an Assistant Professor at the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, University of California, Los Angeles. Working as an anthropologist and curator, Alex’s practice explores the intersection of ethnographic and curatorial modes of enquiry. Researching collaboratively with activists, curators and artists in Brazil since 2007, Alex explores the prefigurative potential of art in community contexts, prompting the theorisation of fields such as the production of knowledge, the pluriversal, and the social and aesthetic dimensions of form.