About the exhibition
By Adriana Rosenberg

Through a set of works by contemporary Latin American artists gathered in this exhibition that we call “El dorado. A territory”, Fundación Proa invites you to review the myth of El Dorado in America, one of the most influential in the history of humanity.

The fantasy about the existence of a place where precious metals andother riches encouraged in the fifteenth century the imagination of the adventurers who came from Europe to make a fortune... But did El Dorado really exist? from this one on question, Proa's exhibition focuses on the notion of territory and, in the manner of a journey in the tunnel of time, invites us to know and recognize (in the double sense of re-knowing and to value) the raw materials and the immensity of the resources found in America and that changed the daily life of East and West from the 16th century. 

It is the survival of the myth throughout the centuries and the verification of its intact strength, as well as the unforgettable meetings and conversations held between the directors of the three institutions involved Americas Society, Museo Amparo and Fundación Proa which prompted us to carry out this project. The first step was the seminar coordinated by Edward Sullivan. Organized into various conceptual themes –dreams, commerce, greed, travel, heaven and hell–, experts summoned from all over the continent referred to gold both literally, as a metal, but also as a support, relic or attire; while others focused on the relationships between the artists and the contemporary resonances of the myth. The result of these meetings made it possible to build a visual and documentary archive that was key when preparing the first lists of works.

Throughout almost two years, the development of the investigation led us to think of a creative curatorial proposal, which consists of carrying out a series or sequence of exhibitions in which each institution contributes reflections, points of view and their own versions of the topicality of the myth and its impact in each region linked to the project. "He golden. A territory" is not a traveling exhibition but rather forms a constellation of images, texts and works to be developed throughout 2023 and 2024 in three museums different.

"The Golden. A territory" is the concept chosen by Fundación Proa to inaugurate this expository trilogy. Starting from what we call the "zero degree" as equivalent to the territory, that element of the landscape that seemed deserted and that contained so much riches, we decided to concentrate our vision and reflection on the valuable substances proper to the continent tomato, potato, cocoa, rubber, etc., and show the diversity and exuberance of a geography rich in minerals, flora and fauna that revolutionized the world order. Of the hand of the artists and their provocative contemporary practices, we try to transit the territory and discover those treasures, which at the same time are testimony to the burden that their exploitation, and the consequent disappearance of the native societies and cultures that they housed.

The exhibition welcomes the visitor with the immersive work of Carolina Caycedo, which submerges us in the Cauca River, where they are found, floating with singular beauty, gold nuggets. Clorindo Testa's raft and Víctor Grippo's boat, together with Turismo/El gold, by Fernando Bryce, become the metaphor of the trip, the precariousness, the illusion and greed. The power of the word appears in the work of Leopoldo Maler, when evokes metal through its nomenclature.

The religious implications, but also of power, of the materiality of the painting, of the body and the architectural space of the myth are present in the works of Mathias Goeritz, Stefan Brüggemann, Leda Catunda, Laura Vinci and Olga de Amaral. and in dialogue With these contemporary works, we present the golden capes worn by the priests on pilgrimages, attire that demonstrates, once again, that performance is central to both religion and power. It is a room introspective, contemplative and silent in which color assumes absolute relevance in its various forms of representation. In the next room, we immerse ourselves in the territory through a series of works that include a video, made by Pedro Terán, that reconstructs the ceremony of the town muisca; a color sampler made with mounds of earth from various regions and Conversing with the Sun, presented by Teresa Pereda; the intervened image of the jungle from the Mazenett & Quiroga collective, and the pages also intervened in the first approaches to the study of the continental flora of Sandra Gamarra. Besides, the Betsabeé Romero's work problematizes the exploitation of rubber and corn as an element of value (subdued), Santiago Montoya presents works by and about chocolate, and Ximena Garrido Lecca does the same with copper, while Gastón Ugalde displays coca leaves on the map of South America. All these works outline an exhaustive panorama of the findings and present, in a complex and diverse way, both the raw materials and the problems associated with their extraction. The silver extracted from the Cerro de Potosí can be seen in the coins found in the foundations of the Pyramid of May; while the silver wings, the silver coquera (c. 1800) and the flies by Andrés Bedoya attest to the excellence of artisan work and the importance that silver production had for the Spanish Crown in the formation of a global economy . Each of these pieces document or refer to the skills of the original peoples and the use of indigenous labor, with the injustices and hardships that they caused to the local communities, the first owners of these lands.

Corn -the “Latin American gold”- acquires prominence in Payment of the Argentine foreign debt to Andy Warhol while it appears as support for the payment of the foreign debt by Marta Minujín to Andy Warhol; It condenses a whole series of political-economic themes in the work of Benvenuto Chavajay Ixtetela, with the elotes, or ears of corn, made into bullets; and it manifests itself in the work of Evi Tartari as a refuge, a support. The value of the potato worldwide, present in the work of Víctor Grippo and in the photography of Martin Chambi, together with the value of the bell pepper (also native to these lands), in the record of the land art installation by Florencia Sadir, as well as the giant sweet potato made with aluminum and gold leaf, by Iván Argote, and the beautiful works of Tania Candini, embroidered and dyed with cochineal, present the series of conflicts that arose from not only the discovery of these raw materials but also the derivations that these products had in their insertion in the modern and contemporary world economy.

We also present a series of texts by prominent authors and artists, and an interview with the curatorial committee, which attempt to describe the magnitude of this proposal, which is anchored in regional territoriality. Sergio Baur, Edward Sullivan, Gabriela Siracusano and Walter Mignolo propose in each one of the texts paths towards an understanding of the complex historical experience: its findings, its sorrows, its consequences. The artists, with their writings and words, show the variety in the complex contemporary approaches of their works. The dialogue between works and these exquisite thoughts generates a founding publication that examines history through the eyes of the present.

The thanks are for all those who collaborated in the realization of the exhibition and the catalogue; for the professionals who will be present in the educational programs, including the one organized by Proa together with UNED, and in the vast public program that will accompany the exhibition in the coming months. To all of them, to the providers of the works, the Fundación Proa team and the assistants from the institutions of the Americas Society and the Amparo Museum, our great appreciation. To our historic sponsors Tenaris and Ternium who, together with the philanthropic collaboration of our Board of Directors, make possible the realization of this international exhibition that is "El dorado. A territory”. It would not have been possible without your permanent collaboration and advice. To Aimé Iglesias Lukin for his insistence and commitment, and to Ramiro Martínez for his silent perseverance and reflection.

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Gallery 1
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Through a set of works by contemporary Latin American artists gathered in this exhibition that we call El Dorado. Un territorio, Proa Foundation invites us to review the myth of El Dorado in America, one of the most influential in the history of humanity.

The fantasy of the existence of a place where precious metals and other riches abounded encouraged the imagination of adventurers who came from Europe to make their fortune in the 15th century... But did El Dorado really exist? Based on this question, Proa's exhibition is centered on the notion of territory and, in the manner of a trip in the time tunnel, invites us to know and recognize (in the double meaning of knowing and valuing, again) the raw materials and the vastness of the resources found in America and which changed the daily life of East and West from the 16th century.

It is the survival of the myth throughout the centuries and the verification of its intact force, as well as the unforgettable meetings and conversations held between the directors of the three institutions involved —Americas Society, Museo Amparo and Proa Foundation—which prompted us to carry out this project.

Throughout almost two years, the development of the research led us to think of a creative curatorial proposal, which consists of carrying out a series or sequence of exhibitions in which each institution provides thoughts, points of view and their own versions of the topicality of the myth and its impact in each region linked to the project. El Dorado. Un territorio is not an itinerant exhibition but forms a constellation of images, texts and works to be developed throughout 2023 and 2024 in three different museums.

El Dorado. Un territorio is the concept chosen by Proa Foundation to inaugurate this exhibition trilogy. Starting from what we call “zero degree” as equivalent to the territory, that element of the landscape that seemed deserted and that contained so much wealth, we decided to focus our vision and reflection on the valuable substances typical of the continent —tomato, potato, cocoa, rubber, etc.-, and show the diversity and exuberance of a geography rich in minerals, flora and fauna that revolutionized the world order. Hand in hand with the artists and their provocative contemporary practices, we try to navigate the territory and discover these treasures, which at the same time, are testimony to the burden that their exploitation meant, and the consequent disappearance of the original societies and cultures that housed them.

El Dorado. Un territorio welcomes the visitor with the immersive work of Carolina Caycedo, which submerges us in the Cauca River, where gold nuggets are found, floating with singular beauty. Clorindo Testa's raft and Víctor Grippo's, together with Turismo/El Dorado, by Fernando Bryce, become the metaphor of travel, precariousness, illusion and greed.

Gallery 2
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Since ancient times, El Dorado has been present in the manifestations of religious art in many different cultures. Both in Christian art and in certain Eastern philosophies and religions, it has been associated with the idea of ​​divine power and has been - and still is today - a symbol of divinity and wealth. This is expressed by the variety of techniques and styles used in countless works of art for churches, cathedrals and other places of worship, as well as in a large number of liturgical objects whose function is to inspire devotion and reverence.

Prehispanic cultures also knew about and used gold for ritual and ceremonial purposes: the Inca civilization, from Peru: the Muisca, from Colombia, and the Aztec, from Mexico, covered objects made of ceramics, wood, or other materials with gold sheets and held sacred ceremonies that involved objects made with that metal.

The legend of El Dorado, which prompted the idea of ​​a city of gold in South America, is based on the ritual practices of the Muiscas. These practices, located in Lake Guatavita, consisted of the immersion, in that lake, of the new cacique, whose body was covered with a golden dust.

In the Inca and Aztec cultures, gold was used for religious purposes −ceremonial objects, decoration of temples and palaces, everyday objects, glasses and plates− and also as a demonstration of wealth by the elites, who used masks and ornaments in jewelry, rings, necklaces and bracelets as marks of their power.

Starting in the 20th century, some abstract artists explored in their works the use of gold as a path and symbol of transfiguration and transcendence. The absence of images in the monochrome pieces allows an appreciation of the beauty of the material and activates a perceptive phenomenon of dialogue between the exterior and the interior. The surfaces of these works suggest/enable a shift of attention inwards for the viewer.

Gold becomes, in these diverse practices, the sign of the perception of space and light, the representative of wealth but also of decadence, and also the reference to a story with multiple meanings.

In this room, the group of selected artists uses gold in this breadth of meanings: monochrome works such as those by Mathias Goeritz, made with ancient techniques in which color is pure presence, create a visual and sensory experience; the incorporation of contemporary language, in the works of Stefan Brüggemann, generates a dialogue, in a conceptual key, between the past and the present; the delicate use of textile techniques and materials, in the work of Olga de Amaral; the piece Dorado II, by Leda Catunda, and the pluvial layers of the 18th century constitute two references of different historical moments in the techniques of weaving and embroidery, and show its evolution; and finally, Laura Vinci takes up the wonder associated with gold in a work that crosses space and leaves in the air that kind of dream that has taken and takes so many forms.

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On the liturgical symbology
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Religious ornaments have undergone few changes over time, and it can be said that most of them originate from the garments worn by the military and the aristocracy in ancient Rome.  The pluvial cape in particular takes its shape from the “lacerna”, a cloak that protected soldiers in the open.  Despite being a luxury piece, within the ecclesiastical attire it is the most democratic, the only one that can be worn by both the Pope and any priest or bishop.  It was used in processions, always associated with the liturgical calendar through the symbology of colors: white for Christmas and Easter Sunday;  red on the days of the passion and the holy martyrs;  green during the so-called "ordinary time", the longest of the year.

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 The Imperial Villa of Potosí


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Between 1545 and 1620 the city of Potosí, present-day Bolivia, contributed more than 50% of the world volume of legally registered silver, constituting a strategic economic sector for the Spanish crown.  Such was the amount of precious metal extracted that in 1553 Emperor Charles V decided to grant it the title of "Imperial Villa".

 Located at 4,067 meters above sea level, its urban configuration grew spontaneously at the rate of mining production, becoming one of the most cosmopolitan centers on the planet in the 16th and 17th centuries.  At its peak, it had 120,000 inhabitants, including many Spanish settlers and adventurers from other parts of Europe.  Its demographic dimensions were comparable to the great western cities of the time: Seville, London, Venice.  This growing population made up of indigenous labor and the aristocratic class made up of the "azogueros" or mining businessmen, demanded processed products and raw materials, generating a chain of regional exchanges throughout an extensive territory.  From what is now Argentina, for example, mules, wool, alcoholic beverages and embossed leather were sent;  while in different areas of the Peruvian space food, manufactured objects and pieces of worked silver were produced for consumption in the Imperial Villa and also in other urban centers in America.

 Regarding labor organization in silver mining, Potosí depended almost entirely on indigenous labor, while Afro-descendants (slaves or freedmen) made up a minority (unlike that of gold).  A few mestizos and Spaniards held roles as mine owners, tenants, mayordomos, and ministers in charge of supervision and justice in the mines.

 The truth is that millions of coins and silver bars, among other objects, left Potosí on the back of a mule and llama, crossing steep terrain until they reached the port of Arica to set sail for Callao, in Lima, Peru.  Another long boat trip awaited them across the Pacific towards the coasts of Panama, then continuing by land to reach those of the Atlantic, and thus finally crossing into Spain.

 In 1987 Potosí was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Gallery 3
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The legend of El Dorado, in which the idea of ​​a land rich in gold and wealth is spread, is a narrative phenomenon that has acquired multiple versions over the centuries. In the 16th century, the Spanish received news of a ceremony −today it is known that it was from the Muisca culture− in which an indigenous king or cacique covered himself with gold dust. This votive practice is represented in the famous piece called La balsa muisca, currently part of the Gold Museum in Bogotá. In 1981, the Colombian artist, Pedro Terán, reconstructs this ceremony and the video reproduced in the room is the record of the performance.

We entered the American territory with the work of Teresa Pereda, a set of different colors and soil textures extracted from various parts of the continent. The artist says: "I am aware that the earth is ritual material, it concentrates memory: it is our own history."

For the project Communicating with Earth (1976), the artist Marta Minujín extracted 23 kilos of earth from Machu Picchu that were later sent to various Latin American artists, who, in turn, sent a portion of their own soil so that everything could be buried in the same place. The action lasted several years and demonstrates the interest in establishing a regional dialogue through this uniting element.

The diversity of the landscapes, the richness of the raw materials and minerals of the continent are present in this room. The idea of ​​the territory is reinforced by the 800 flies made of silver by the artist Andrés Bedoya, who recovers the lost wax technique; the gold disc and the impression of the jungle covered with gold sheets by the Colombian collective Mazenett Quiroga point out the diversity of the territory, making visible the mineral extraction points and the complexity of these practices. These two works dialogue with the facsimile pages of the encyclopedic records of plants and their first classifications in the work of Sandra Gamarra.

The exploitation of rubber in the work of Betsabeé Romero recovers history by capturing the prehispanic iconography that transformed the ecosystem and populations; copper interwoven with autochthonous techniques; and again gold, in dialogue with chocolate -originally cocoa-, present contemporary treatments of structural materials in history.

There are indications of the extraction of gold and silver with advanced mining and metallurgical techniques by the Incas in the Andean zone that date from periods prior to the arrival of the Spanish to the continent.

On the other hand, the uneasiness of not finding the fantasized gold was offset by the discovery of the silver mines of Cerro de Potosí, an incalculable source of wealth and devastation in equal parts. The extraordinary pieces from the Collection of the I. Fernández Blanco Museum and the chest with coins found in the foundations of the Pyramid of May, in which the quality and subtlety of craftsmanship as well as the beauty of color can be appreciated, account for the continent's exuberance through another of its valuable metals. Given that silver became one of the main sources of wealth for the Spanish Crown, its intensive extraction led to widespread exploitation of indigenous peoples, and had a high and disastrous impact on the local environment.

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Pedro Terán. Clouds for Colombia, 1981
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Pedro Terán is one of the most important conceptual artists in Venezuela, known for his photographs, performances, installations, and interventions in public spaces. His work Clouds for Colombia was presented for the first time in 1981 within the framework of the First Latin American Colloquium on Non-Object Art and Urban Art, organized by the Museum of Modern Art of Medellín. It is the record of an action inspired by the myth of "El Dorado", in which Terán uses his own body to evoke an ancient figure known as Balsa Muisca.

This piece, which currently belongs to the permanent collection of the Gold Museum in Bogotá, Colombia, was found around 1960, but it is believed that it was made between the years 600 and 1600 AD. It is a votive offering of approximately 20 x 10 cm that represents the transfer of the throne of a Muisca chief to his nephew during a ceremony that took place in the Guatavita lagoon, in the eastern mountain range of present-day Colombia. This investiture ritual of the new ruler or zipa -as the Muiscas called it- gives rise to what is known as "the legend or myth of the golden". In the composition, the nephew is seated on his throne richly attired with objects and ornaments worthy of his status; At his feet he carries gold nuggets, emeralds and other precious stones to offer to the gods, but before getting on the raft he had to cover his body with gold dust, fixed with turpentine. It was a brilliant body, just as Terán reproduces in his performance.

For the Muiscas, gold had a double meaning: it was sacred and at the same time represented power.
This marvel of goldsmithing was cast in one go, that is to say that its parts were not joined with welds. The work of the human figures, the wooden raft and its decorations is achieved with absolute mastery, and it is a true symbol for Colombia and a representative ritual of the American indigenous cosmogony that currently illustrates its bills.

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 That powerful red


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 The cochineal is a tiny insect that feeds on the leaves of the cactus.  When it dies, the dried body produces a deep red pigment that has been used in Europe since the 15th century to dye expensive textiles, such as silk and wool.  It had the virtue of achieving a saturated and indelible tone, capable of remaining unchanged for decades.

 The story goes that, in the middle of 1530, Emperor Charles V wrote a letter to Hernán Cortés requesting information about this very high-quality tincture, already known then as "grana cochineal", and that for three hundred years it was the commodity most important in colonial Mexico after silver.  The indigenous peasants of the altiplano (then the viceroyalty of New Spain) called it nocheztli, or “blood of tuna”.

 In addition to being used to dye the clothes of kings, nobles and high command of the church, they say that it was also present in the palette of the great painters, including Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

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Tomato
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Indispensable in the recipes of almost all cultures, the tomato is a fruit native to the low Andes, although its domestication occurred among the agricultural communities of Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, and Central America.  The Aztecs baptized it xīctomatl, or "fruit with a navel" in the Nahuatl language.  In the S.  XVI was introduced by the Spanish in Europe, and it is believed that at first it was cultivated in Seville, one of the main centers of international trade at the time.  However, his acceptance into society was gradual.  It was considered an unhealthy botanical rarity and was only consumed by the popular classes of Spain and Italy, until the mid-s.  XIX began to multiply in a variety of species known today for their shapes and colors.

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Chili Pepper
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About the chili pepper – pepper, chile, bell pepper, etc.-– research places it more than 6,000 years ago in the region of present-day central Bolivia, from where the seeds would have dispersed to the rest of the continent, in part, with the help of the birds.  But it can be considered that it was in Mexico where it found the ideal conditions for its subsequent diversification.  Christopher Columbus "exported" it to Spain around 1493, where it was accepted as a substitute for pepper, which was then expensive because it came from the East.  Its ability to adapt to the soil allowed chili peppers to expand rapidly throughout the s.  XVI.

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The eternal actuality of the myth (Fragments)
By Edward J. Sullivan

“The legend of El Dorado stimulated the imagination of the indigenous populations, of the colonizers and, later, of artists, filmmakers, novelists and biographers. The production of books, films, paintings and all kinds of objects related to this story continues to this day."

“Aguirre, the Wrath of God, starring Klaus Kinski, was originally filmed in English but later dubbed into German, and then dubbed from German into many other languages. It is a classic film, reflecting the desire of one of the greatest film directors of the 20th century, Werner Herzog, to conceive a film based on the legend of El Dorado. This remarkable film, which has become a cult classic, expresses the ultimate fervor, the ultimate desire, and the ultimate passion. It was filmed in the Peruvian Amazon, in the tropical jungle. And in fact the Spanish gold hunters (I guess that's the best way to describe them) did all the things that we see in the scenes of the movie: they cut lianas, they felled trees, they got stranded on their rafts in the Amazon river and they suffered all these torments trying to find El Dorado.”

“So the legend has had a long life, as well as a very vibrant and active one, in the imagination of peoples around the world, and has entered the realms of our collective consciousness, and our collective unconscious. I think the idea of gold permeates our minds even more not just as an object, but as an idea, as a concept: a concept of sacredness, a concept of luxury, a concept of success, a concept of the ultimate in matter of commerce”.

“We have to take into account a wide variety of historical circumstances to understand the role of gold and the exchange of objects in the history of the Americas.

I think one of the most perfect examples can be found in an engraving from 1594, made by the Flemish bookseller, engraver and publisher, Theodore de Bry. In 1594 the gigantic text titled Journey to the Americas was published, created in collaboration with various artists, and sold and published by De Bry. I have always liked to see this quintessential symbol of the encounter between Europeans and indigenous peoples that shows the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the island, which was then called Guanahani, which is the Taino name for what is now called Watling Island [ San Salvador], in the Bahamas archipelago. Of course, this was a fabrication from a third or fourth version by the story's authors. De Bry never traveled to America, and most of these 16th and 17th century artists turned to homebound travelers and their "tales of extraordinary things" (to use the words of Albrecht Dürer, who described gold from the Indies that he saw in Brussels), and to the descriptions in words and images of events such as the exchange of gifts…”

“They gave the gold to the Spanish, activating their imagination for more gold, more riches, more silver and everything else, and they obtained enslavement and all the depredations they suffered in return. There are many people who would discuss many aspects of this, I'm just showing you a broad spectrum of ideas."

“The extraction of gold from the earth was very much the heart or the engine that drove the economies; Other staples such as sugar, molasses, coffee, and cotton were added later, but gold and silver were the objects of desire in the early phases of colonization. And this could not happen without the use of slave labor. The first enslaved peoples were, of course, the indigenous people.

Fernando Bryce. Turismo / El Dorado, 2000. Serie de 50 dibujos, tinta sobre papel. 30 x 21 cm c/u. Coleccin Track 16, Los ngeles

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The enthusiasm to have more (fragments)
By Walter D. Mignolo

“From the texts and the discussion that she follows and details, Elvira Vilches raises what gold generated in the Spanish imagination: an enthusiasm. And we can imagine it as an almost homogeneous feeling, in the sense that everyone was imagining and dreaming of having more. But the point is that gold was already something that was in the imagination before 'the Indies'. It was there during what we used to call the Middle Ages. If the question of gold was already in the imagination of the Europeans, it was, of course, also in the imagination of the Aztecs and the Incas, but in an entirely different way. The meaning was completely different. Whatever interest they had in gold was not related to a concern for money because there was something else in their moral philosophy.”

“In the Teocuícatl, as David Carrasco explained, Téotl, in Omeotéotl was translated as 'God' because it was the only way in which the Spaniards could get an idea of Omeotéotl; but Téotl is a divinity, or an energy, rather, it is not a God. It is a dual gender energy – neither feminine nor masculine – that created the universe. In this cosmology, gold appears as the excrement of Omeotéotl –which is related to the sun–, and therefore as something that should be revered, because if the sun disappeared everyone would die and because, according to the Aztecs, they lived on a slippery and slippery Earth. they had to maintain a balance and harmony. It is a huge difference between the two cosmologies. And these are just some of the ideas that were covered up by all the discussion about gold in the West.”

“There were three different spheres in which gold affected sentiment, desire, and the ways in which people were moved. One of those spheres was that of the humanism of the Church. At that time, the humanists of the Church were really dismayed by the attention that the Spanish began to pay to the possibility of being extremely wealthy. And not only the possibility of increasing wealth, but specifically that of increasing the wealth of the Spanish monarchy (and here the second sphere): Spain settled its debts with the Genoese for the money they had lent to pay for exploration, as well invested in the army and had also gained prestige and aroused jealousy in other European monarchies”.

“We said at the beginning that looking at gold and El Dorado from the Spanish or European perspective – the case of Adam Smith – is only half the story. As various specialists and experts from the 18th century and the Enlightenment have emphasized, although Adam Smith is seen as the founder of political economy, he was still a moral philosopher. In fact, he published The Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759 and The Wealth of Nations in 1776. Smith was highly critical of the nation and wrote in the context of mercantilists. He was not convinced that the wealth of the nation could be based on gold, rather he thought that it had to be based on work and investment.

“In the northern European countries, dreams and desires for gold began to be displaced towards another kind of interest. Naturally! They did not have the opportunity that the Spanish had to access all those material resources, the gold of America. But they had the Caribbean, they had the plantation. They had another kind of gold: cotton. And there were sugar, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, etc. That was what Smith was paying attention to: commodities.”

Annimo. Capa pluvial (Espaa), siglo XIX. Gross de seda blanco marfil bordado con tachas e hilos metlicos dorados, forrada en moire al tono. 149 x 297 cm. Procede del Convento de Santo Domingo de Buenos Aires. Coleccin Museo Isaac Fernndez Blan

Annimo. Dalmtica (Espaa), siglo XVIII. Gross de seda bordada en tachas e hilos metlicos dorados en relieve. 102 x 136 cm. Procede del Convento de Santo Domingo de Buenos Aires. Coleccin Museo Isaac Fernndez Blanco

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Sacrality, idolatry and the new liturgies (fragments)
By Gabriela Siracusano

“As we well know, gold – both in religious images and in liturgical and paraliturgical objects – has always functioned in the textual and visual discourses of Christianity as a metaphor that pivoted between sacredness and the danger of idolatry. Regarding the latter, it is the Old Testament text that explains this relationship between the production of figures, particularly made of gold, and idolatrous sin, obviously the golden calf being an example of this.

“In colonial South America, these same strategies were replicated, but within a particular scenario: the need to evangelize as a way of adding souls to the counter-reformation crusade, but also to control the hundreds of populations whose ideas, beliefs, and traditions were alien to what was that the Spanish conquest imposed. Meanwhile, gold appeared as a hallmark of wealth and the benefits that these lands could offer – “The Kingdom of Peru, Illustrious, and famous, and very large, where there is a large quantity of Gold and Silver, and other rich metals, of whose abundance the proverb was born, that to say that a man is rich they say he possesses `Peru´ 7 –, contributing to an imaginary that would lead to the construction of El Dorado”.


“As a sacred matter, this metal participated in many of the objects produced and venerated by Andean cultures. In the paragraphs on the Inca pantheon, famous sources such as Guamán Poma de Ayala, the Inca Garcilaso, Polo de Ondegardo and Pablo José de Arriaga, among many others, insist on the presence of gold as a part of both sacred spaces and objects as well as the offerings that participated in their rituals. Among the stories about what they found in the Temple of the Sun, the Koricancha, with its Gold and Silver Garden, allow me to highlight the theological and providential gaze of Santa Cruz Pachacuti, who not only described its interior, all covered in gold, but also also drew it. Guaman Poma de Ayala also refers to the same thing: `all the upper and lower walls are lined with fine gold´ (folio 262)”.

“How then to counteract this close association between gold and these 'places of the sacred', these huacas of the Andean world, with the words, images and objects that were to replace them? The strategy was precisely to redouble this sun-gold-sacrality association, but now on the protagonists of the new religion: God the Father, Christ, Mary, the Saints and the objects that accompanied the liturgy”.

Vctor Grippo. Naturalizar al hombre, humanizar a la naturaleza energa vegetal, 1977/2023. Papas 8 o 10 frascos de laboratorio de usos diversos, tapones de goma, torundas de algodn y tintas de dibujo de diferentes colores diluidas en agua, mantel de

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The road to El Dorado (fragments)
By Sergio Baur

“El nuevo continente contribuye desde finales del siglo XV, al conjunto de leyendas y tradiciones occidentales, en busca de tesoros áureos. Desde el Rey Midas de la mitología griega, que según Aristóteles murió de hambre, debido a que todo lo que tocaba se convertía en oro, hasta los tesoros templarios, el mito de la riqueza en tierras remotas, se refuerza para los navegantes del siglo XV y XVI, con la ilusión de alcanzar la opulencia del imperio de Kublai Khan, descriptos por Marco Polo en sus viajes”.             

“Posiblemente la frustración inicial de no haber hallado la ruta buscada a las Indias, haya promovido la necesidad de la creación de un mito. La esperanza y la fe en supuestas riquezas, promovería más fácilmente la financiación de las distintas empresas conquistadoras y alentaría el inicio de nuevas expediciones. De igual modo, los relatos de los distintos pueblos originarios del Nuevo Mundo, distraían a los visitantes y los alejaba de su vocación violenta, o como bien lo define Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, para les agradar o suspender sus crueldades”.

“El genuino Dorado de la leyenda del Reino de Nueva Granada, se convertirá rápidamente en un concepto que se mantuvo vivo hasta el siglo XIX, cuando los aires de independencia que circularon desde México al Río de la Plata hicieron claudicar los sueños de tantos ávidos buscadores”.

“La figura del  Adelantado Sebastián de Benalcázar, nacido en 1480 y que cumplió en Indias, funciones de Adelantado, militar, explorador, descubridor, conquistador y gobernante colonial, y que fuera también fundador de las ciudades de  San Francisco de Quito (1534), Santiago de Guayaquil (1535), Popayán y Cali (1537), es un personaje ampliamente citado por los cronistas, como difusor de la búsqueda de El Dorado.Benalcázar exploró las tierras de los muiscas, el pueblo que engendró la leyenda de El dorado. Ese pueblo realizaba una ceremonia de coronación en la laguna Guatavita. Los nuevos reyes navegaban en una balsa de juncos, cubiertos de oro y llevando ofrendas de ese metal a los dioses. El descubrimiento en 1969 de una pequeña balsa de oro, que hoy se conserva en el Museo del Oro de Bogotá, se ha convertido en el imaginario colectivo en el ícono dominante de  la leyenda de El dorado”.   

“A Juan de Castellanos también se le debe la primera descripción de la papa, a la que describe como una golosina de regalo para los españoles, y que posiblemente se convirtió en un producto tan preciado como el valioso metal, cuando el tubérculo importado a Europa, mitigó las hambrunas del continente”.