response to Tory´s blog

Posted by: | March 5, 2009 | Comments Off on response to Tory´s blog

I like your comments because I also thought about the Zapatista´s murals, it might be that because we took that class with Marvin with thought about those murals. About the second reading I was also confused but I like how you connected Taussig´s s…


Posted by: | March 4, 2009 | Comments Off on Muralism

Although quite long, the readings were interesting this week.  I really enjoy the thought of murals having a large impact on popular culture in Latin America.  The first reading really hit it home what muralism is and how it affects popular culture in so many ways.  I really enjoy the background as always, the history of something such as murals in Latin America.  I enjoy this because I can also relate as I have many artists as friends and they participate in painting murals in Vancouver and other places all the time.  I can easily see how it changes minds and views of art in a dramatically different way.  Murals really bring forward the reality of an area or place and lets the whole world know what’s going on.
The different stories about all the people who are touched by murals, or perceive them in different ways than what might be expected is also interesting.  In our first reading the women in Colonia Guerrero talk about how they see murals in the context of their experiences and lives, "in relation to the spaces they occupy and the experience they are interpreted as depicting."  This shows how murals are incorporated into their everyday lives, these murals are somewhat ‘ordinary’ so to speak, living the lives these women lead every day.  They love the idea of having murals in the places they frequent the most, being part of their relaity as well as telling it’s own.
The way murals are a part of popular places, places that are walked by every day by people who are willing to look and listen, these are the ways in which things are changed.  To paint a mural depicting a suffering culture, would be to break the silence that most people become accustomed to, to make change and call out the wrong in life.  This first reading speaks a lot about political change, public discourse and how murals often attempt to bring something to light.
The second reading was a little more complicated.  I love the stroy telling aspect of this reading but I found it difficult to find my way out of the story it was trying to tell.  Ok that was confusing, so what I mean to say is that I didn’t know the underlying meaning of this story, I found it difficult to decipher it’s content but perhaps that’s my problem.

Folk Culture and Modernity

Posted by: | March 4, 2009 | Comments Off on Folk Culture and Modernity

The readings this week were really interesting, complete and descriptive. However they were also really long and I found it really hard to finish them over the weekend. However, having read them now I feel they brought together some of the ideas that we have been talking about in our classes so far. The notion of power dynamics and struggles and how it all in turn affects and aids in creating the popular culture of a society.


The first reading aims at examining, “specifically, public space and discourse, state power, and civil societal movements…” Campbell explains muralism as an art and expression, and how it contributes to Mexican culture. The Murals combine many aspects of culture at all levels of society. They combine folk culture and modern culture and are produced by people working towards a similar expression, action, events, histories, etc in an artistic form that is open to all members of a community. These massive prints are viewed by many generations of people and understood as expressions of power relations between “the people” and the state. Peoples experiences are expressed in the murals, the experiences they have shared and how those experiences have in turn created what they have today. Members of communities come together to share the troubles they have faced together and express these in their art.


The second article by Taussig, was also interesting but it took a while for me to get into it. To be honest I don’t know if I really got it, or got it right at least.  I found I had to read a section over a few times, making myself be really present in order to ‘get’ his writing style. “The Queen Spirit” is not really full of such in depth descriptions like Campbells writing about culture and how it comes to be. Taussig more or less provides descriptions that enable the reader to picture for themselves the formation of a culture. His article describes Colombia’s power struggles and the interactions between poorer and more developed worlds. This article had lots of examples but im still not so sure if I’m getting it right.. I look forward to discussing it all in class to see if im on the right track here!


Posted by: | March 4, 2009 | Comments Off on …muralismo…

De las lecturas de esta semana la Campbell se me hizo sumamente interesante porque describe éste con detalle el muralismo mexicano, desde sus orígenes y las diversas transformaciones que ha sufrido con el paso de los años. Campbell describe el inici…

Folk culture versus Modernity

Posted by: | March 3, 2009 | Comments Off on Folk culture versus Modernity

Okay, so I got home from school last night only to find that my internet wasn’t working. I swear! It won’t get fixed until Thursday now, so I’m submitting this from campus. A day late, but here it is: The readings for this week are both very interest…

Folk culture and modernity

Posted by: | March 3, 2009 | Comments Off on Folk culture and modernity

As Campbell shows in his text, muralism is an important element of the Mexican culture: murals belong to the Mexican cultural patrimony. Muralism belongs both to folk culture and modernity.It is a part of folk culture in its form: an artistic creation not produced for the market and produced by a collective of people. Murals tell the history of the Mexican nation and are like urban prints which could been viewed by generations from generations. Murals are a kind of national legacy. As Octavio Paz said, « Mural painting belongs to what might called the wax museum of Mexican nationalism ».

Moreover, they also belong to modernity because they have been painted in a specific political context. As Campbell mentions in his text, one could divide muralism in different eras: the hegemony of the Mexican School mural arts from the 1920’s until the 1960’s which opens a new era, and the crisis of the official public sphere with the end of the State support of muralism and the apparition of graffiti as a form of unofficial mural practice not supported by the State.

Modernity means a creation of a political space, separation between the private and the public sphere. The actors of the public sphere are the rulings but also the ruled.The « tres grandes » participated in the creation of an official public sphere in order to strengthen the construction of the nation, they « open » this public space to the people because murals were in public space so they were accessible to everybody and also because it was not a written but a visual language. It was an « art public » whom one of its goals was to democratize the public institutions and try to make the people participate in the public sphere. The murals gave a concrete, territorial dimension to the official public sphere and incarnated the political struggles. It was also an open space because people were represented so they could feel concerned, it was « public for art ». By being represented on the mural Mexican people became visible on the political scene but it does not mean that they were active.

Moreover, as Campbell emphasizes, « Latin American societies evolved without developing most of the strong sectors of civil society that emerged in other countries. » The « tres grandes » were quite constrained, bounded (ex: they were not to represent too much the indigenous people) in their creation and had to undergird the official discourse of the State so it was also a « closed » public sphere insofar as murals had to suit to the State’s standards and be in accordance with the official discourse which promoted one particular kind of ideology otherwise the walls were destroyed. State imposed official limits in the painting of the murals so the expression of the civil society was constrained, bridled. The painters, predominantly communist tried to put a political message across their paintings so they combined traditional aesthetic with modernity insofar as their murals represented the present and not the past of Mexico though.

I didn’t really get the text by Taussig. I guess it was about the construction, legitimation of the State: how could we legitimate something which doesn’t physically exist? Taussig speaks about all the symbolism created around the State so it may be a way to show that the magic used in the myths and legends is the same that the symbolism used to legitimate the State: all this is based on believes.


Folk Culture and Modernity

Posted by: | March 3, 2009 | Comments Off on Folk Culture and Modernity

While I found both articles very interesting and insightful, they were long, and at points difficult to understand, so I admit that I did some skimming to get through them. With that said, I think that both articles were good representations of many of…

Posted by: | March 3, 2009 | Comments Off on

Hi everyone!I hope you all had a great weekend even though we had to read like two hundred pages, I enjoyed reading the first article, it is very complete. Mexican Muralism is a movement that started since 1930 with three great artists: David Alfaro Si…

Folk Culture and Modernity

Posted by: | March 3, 2009 | Comments Off on Folk Culture and Modernity

To begin, I feel I should say what a few other people have said in regards to the quantity of reading for this week; this was ENTIRELY too much reading for one week.  While I found both pieces extremely interesting and valuable, it was a struggle to complete both in the space of a week without really compromising the time I allot to read for other courses.  That said…

While I really enjoyed both readings, I found the Taussig piece to be particularly insightful and relevant to the course.  I feel that both articles heavily emphasized our previously stated course-themes of power struggle and the dynamics of power in shaping popular culture–these dynamics are most obvious in the Mexican murals discussed by Campbell which traditionally were meant to incorporate aspects of high and low culture and present them in a forum accessible to the general public (I found the mention of our good friend Vasconcelos’ role in mural painting to be very interesting…).  As Campbell explains, muralism has gradually become more of a medium of "the people" or the lower classes utilized as a form of expression to articulate power relations between themselves and the state.  This article immediately brought to mind the murals of the Zapatistas of Chiapas–a very popular form of public artistic expression which I was surprised he did not mention.  These murals are utilized not only to publicly define and portray the EZLN’s struggle against the Mexican state, but also to portray community values and the group’s history.  It is for this reason that many of these murals are painted on the walls of EZLN schools with the intent of inculcating students with a common history and set of values.  I’m glad that we covered Mexican muralism (despite the author’s omission of the Chiapan/Oaxacan murals) because it may be the most concrete example of contemporary Latin American "popular culture" we’ve covered in the course so far. 

In regards to Taussig’s article, I found it extremely challenging initally, but some background reading about the author gave a little insight into what I feel may be his intent with the Spirit Queen.  According to a few blurbs I managed to come across, Taussig’s academic project is aimed to utilize Anthropology’s constant study of the fictionalized "other" to reflect upon Western culture and critique it.  It seems that Taussig regards ethnographic/anthropological study as a way of comparing Western culture to its alternatives and using this comparative study as a self-reflexive process for anthropologists (and perhaps all academics).  We can perhaps see traces of this in his piece "The Spirit Queen" in the constant refrain "Oil out, cars, ammo and videotapes in."  This refrain reminds us of our own preconceptions about areas like Colombia as a location of the "Other"–a place distinctly separate and different from "North American" culture and a place with which we engage in political and cultural power struggles through trade, the media, etc.  So while this piece is full of a million diverse examples of power struggles within Colombia as well as many artefacts of "popular culture," it also reminds us of our place within that cultural power struggle and how we contribute to the shaping of foreign cultures as well as our own. 

State and Popular culture: a complex relation.

Posted by: | March 3, 2009 | Comments Off on State and Popular culture: a complex relation.

I think that these two texts enlighten the relationship between State and popular culture. How does State infer in popular culture?
The first text focuses on the evolution of Mexican murals. The author particularly discusses the fact that these murals suffered from several onslaughts of the governments. He raises the issue that these murals are still […]

Arte Aca

Posted by: | March 3, 2009 | Comments Off on Arte Aca

I have to say that although this week’s readings were long, I found them very engaging. Especially the Campbell article, because it explored a part of Latin American culture that many times goes unnoticed by the people living or commuting by the areas where some of this public murals rest. I became completely engaged early […]

Modernity and Folk Culture

Posted by: | March 2, 2009 | Comments Off on Modernity and Folk Culture

The first reading we had this week was about Mexican murals. Campbell discusses the controversial messages of Mexican murals, their decided place in the history of art, and the ways in which governments and modernization try to erase or modify them. The article begins by describing four distinct public images, the first couple of which are political, talking about the way politicians use Mexican murals to encourage their popularity, nationalism. The next is about modernization and the controversy over it in Tepito. The last is the most local-feeling one, where women from a vecinidad talk about the importance of the murals in their communities. In the high times of Mexican murals, the images were used to represent the people (the working class and the campesinos) the “serial extremes of state and society”, nationalism, and other national social and political issues, like modernization and poverty. Mexican muralism is recognized as a cultural form, but art historians believe it is a thing of the past, unchanging with time. Muralism has “died” for various reasons, including the disparity between muralists’ ideologies and the government’s ideologies, and the increase of urbanization and the reach of mass advertizing. Modernization has infringed upon this expression of folk culture, through the replacement of old traditional housing (which are homes to many murals), by “modern” housing. I realized how important muralism was to Mexico when the author talks about Arnold Belkin in 1961, when he talks about how “Mexican nationalism was an inspiration for the rest of the world” and he is trying to encourage its revival. It’s disappointing that modernization and dominating ideologies could suppress such a compelling art form. I think Mexican muralism was and is an important cultural form, as it expresses a lot of the day-to-day struggles/issues of the people, as well as monumental events that shaped the local and national histories. I think that muralism, when unmodified by government ideologies, is a very honest and raw depiction of the people. I don’t know enough of Mexican muralism to say whether I think it’s “dead” or not. It could be that muralism gave way to graffiti, an art form that has not been acclaimed as skilled or particularly “high-brow”. I think as long as there is some kind of easily accessible, street-level art form that is produced and consumed by the people (of all social, economic, and political standings) and that expresses their political and social ideas, it is a legitimate art form.

I got really lost with the next readings by Taussig. The author talked about different characters, including the spirit queen, the Liberator, el negro primero and el indio. This week’s topic has to do with modernity and folk culture, so, I’m guessing that these characters have to do with these subjects. The more “folk” characters of el indio, el negro primero, and the spirit queen embody folk culture, while the Liberator is shown as more modernized.  The stories have a lot to do with spirits, possession, and the worship of these spirits. I hope that the discussion of these readings by Taussig help me understand them better!!







Folk culture and modernity

Posted by: | March 2, 2009 | Comments Off on Folk culture and modernity

In the reading entitled “The Politics of Visibility” authored by Bruce Campbell talks about the stages in which murals have taken shape in throughout Mexico. I did not like the way in which he presented these stages at first, with his introduction and description of each painting individually, it was quite drab. Once Campbell gets into the ‘Politics’ of the murals it gets interesting. He shows how depending on the how the government wanted its cultural icons and symbols to be display in a certain fashion. This is especially prevalent according to the author in the case of education which has show us the power of manipulation in  a place such as Mexico. Campbell talks about how nationalism became huge because of governmental pressure, to distinct itself from other Latin American countries. It does show an exertion of manipulation and culture creation at the same time. Certain paintings during times of revolution show just that, revolting. During times of catholic dominance, murals were made to display certain things, in order not to offend.  I believe the other presents the new trend in murals has turned into graffiti.

The second article discusses the nation state and spirit possession. This was a somewhat difficult read as it was written in some sort of mix between native story telling techniques and plain English. The beginning passage talks of some sort of “Spirit Queen” in relation to nation state fetishism. I agreed with the majority of things said in this passage as I believe them to be true about nationalism and how people view themselves within a state. I also enjoyed the map on page eight about the colonialist powers exploitation of the country for its oil and its need for cars and videos. This is a such a simple drawing I could have done it myself but I holds within it a very power and insightful throught around neo-colonialist relations.


Folk Culture And Modernity

Posted by: | March 2, 2009 | Comments Off on Folk Culture And Modernity

I found the first article an interesting read for about the first 40 pages or so, then I began to fade away. In his essay, Mexican Murals in times of crisis, Bruce Campbell gives a well rounded synopsis of both the creation and demise of Mexican Murali…

Folk Culture & Modernity

Posted by: | March 2, 2009 | Comments Off on Folk Culture & Modernity

Both articles this week were full of ideas that really resonated with me. However, I found myself skimming over parts of both articles in search of what was really essential to the arguments being made.In Mexican Murals in Times of Crisis, by Bruce Cam…

Folk culture and modernity

Posted by: | March 2, 2009 | Comments Off on Folk culture and modernity

I really need to make this first remark after this week’s readings and this could be taken as a reflection over the course. We had almost 200 pages to read this week, and I personally think it is far too much… It is too long to read each week, to und…

Folk Culture

Posted by: | March 1, 2009 | Comments Off on Folk Culture

Folk Culture and ModernityIn the first reading the author discusses the “evolution” of the different processes that the murals went thru in Mexico. I think that the author uses the concept of the “public sphere” to show how depending on the gov…

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