[-empyre-] The Latin American body and landscape

carolyn castano carolyncastano at gmail.com
Wed Jul 20 00:38:29 AEST 2016

Hello Everyone!

It's been wonderful to follow along and read everyone's posts. I'm
interested in how Feminist Data Visualization can offer an opposing picture
of the "official  story" or resist  what Catherine D'Ignazio calls the
"final representation", specifically, when it comes to women and
minority bodies
and narratives. I'd like to share some of the work that I have been doing
that attempts to provide alternate histories of Latin American women, the
body and landscape.

A little bit about my work:

As a visual artist, my practice has focused on painting, drawing, and
video. My most recent bodies of work are all encounters with themes and
images originating in our hemisphere’s narco-­‐trafficking milieu and armed
conflicts, with a particular emphasis on how gender and ecological concerns
play out therein. These drawings and paintings mix materiality with content
in pieces that consider how the Latin American body and the Latin American
landscape remain inextricably linked, even as their surrounding media and
political contexts are increasingly digitized and globalized. I’m drawn to
these questions not just as a Colombian-­‐American and a woman, but as a
painter who believes painting, drawing and mark making continue to offer
rich, materials-­‐based avenues for understanding the world around us.

 I have several works that I'll share with you through my website
(apologies, it is being rebuilt, so the presentation is a bit wonky) and
through my Vimeo page.  The first piece is titled The Female Report/ El
Reporte Femenil.

 The Female Report/ El Reporte Femenil explores the role of Latin American
women in history and the media. In The Female Report/El Reporte Femenil, a
single channel video which addresses perceptions of Latin American women in
news and ‘infotainment’ culture through a simulated newscast exploring
feminism and popular notions of Latina womanhood. Modeled after popular,
female-anchored Spanish-language television news programs on Telemundo and
Univision, El Reporte Femenil features a fictional newscaster, Silviana Godoy,
“reporting” on the past and current status of women in Latin America. Godoy
alternates between English and Spanish over the course of an extended,
free-wheeling monologue, alighting on the accomplishments and downfalls of
Latin American women. The Female Report/ El Reporte Femenil travels between
English and Spanish and employs a tongue in cheek or comedic delivery that
"reports" on the news or alternate history. The reporter Silvia Godoy
interprets her own newscast switching from English to Spanish in an act
that Brasilian writer Oswald De Andrade calls Antropofagia,  she simultaneously
consumes or eats her own words.

The Female Report/ El Reporte Femenil challenges or relocates the
official feminist
history ( one that is usually centered on the history makers from Europe
and the US) by offering the names of key women in Latin American
revolutions, art, and literature.

The Female Report/El Reporte Femenil https://vimeo.com/41060029

In *Physiognomy of Tropical Vegetation in South America: After Humboldt &
Berg* immerses itself in a visual tradition at the root of many of these
conversations: the maps, painted travelogues and scientific illustrations
that were critical tools of colonialism, botany and pharmacology. This work
is inspired by two 19th Century botanical explorers, Alexander Von
Humboldt, who created a study of native birds, flowers and plants in the
Americas, and Albert Berg, who painted the Magdalena River Valley in
Colombia. My own investigations play off Humboldt and Berg’s rich legacy of
botanical and geographical illustration, evoking both abstract and
figurative painting as well as the current political and ecological state
of the Magdalena River, site of an ongoing armed conflict between the
Colombian government, Marxist guerrillas, right-­‐wing paramilitaries and

Physiognomy of Tropical Vegetation in South America: After Humboldt & Berg
& Garden Heads- http://carolyncastano.com/content/professional-work-0

View the original drawings by Alexander Von Humboldt & Albert Berg in the
Illinois Digital Archive -

My final work that I'll share with you is a video titled Mujeres Que Crean/
Women Who Create which features displaced survivors of Colombia’s armed
conflict re-­enacting poses and gestures found in historical artworks. Set
against drawn tropical landscapes inspired by 18th-century botanical
illustrations of the Magdalena river valley, the video explores the role of
women as mothers, sisters, and children of the armed-­‐ conflict, their
human stories of loss and resilience underscored by the decline of the
fragile ecologies surrounding the rural towns and villages they fled. The
work in the exhibition is the culmination of a project that began three
years ago during a residency at Casa Tres Patios in Medellin, Colombia,
where I led a series of workshops with women from the NGO Corporacion Por La
Vida, Mujeres Que Crean.

Mujeres Que Crean/Women Who Create-https://vimeo.com/131447856

carolyn castaño
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