Page, Joanna;

Published On


Page Range

pp. 163–200


  • English

Print Length

38 pages


  • European naturalists
  • colonial period
  • Latin America
  • material interventions
  • scientific expeditions
  • material technologies
  • printing
  • engravings
  • books
  • Humboldt's journey
  • cultural mediation
  • commercial accumulation
  • Archivo Humboldt
  • decolonial purposes
  • Western modernity
  • colonial representations

5. Albums, Atlases, and their Afterlives

  • Joanna Page (author)
The first part of this chapter discusses art projects that intervene directly into the books and other materials created by travelling European naturalists of the later colonial period, whose conception of nature has so thoroughly shaped representations of Latin America’s landscapes. I explore projects by Rodrigo Arteaga (Chile), Antonio Bermúdez (Colombia), Claudia Coca (Peru), Tiago Sant’ana (Brazil), Oscar Santillán (Ecuador) and others that stage material interventions or performances in relation to the printed images, atlases, albums and catalogues that recorded the findings of scientific expeditions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As well as combating the particular images of Latin America forged in these works, these artists reflect more broadly on the affordances of different material technologies—such as printing, engravings and the book—used to create and disseminate knowledge. The second part of the chapter brings together projects that engage with the scientific, commercial and artistic afterlives of the iconic images that emerged from Humboldt’s journey across the Americas (1799–1804). Bermúdez demonstrates how Humboldt’s images of Latin American landscapes—such as the famous views of the Chimborazo—live on through different kinds of cultural mediation and commercial accumulation. The relationship between Humboldt’s science and extractivism in Latin America, suggested in a poetic mode by Santillán, is explicitly developed in the expansive Archivo Humboldt (2011–), a set of performances, documentation, and (mock) archives created by Fabiano Kueva (Ecuador). These remediations and re-enactments recuperate archives of all kinds for decolonial purposes, reworking them in ways that decentre the ocularcentric, logocentric bias of Western modernity while exploring the power of published words and images to represent the colonial other.


Joanna Page

Professor of Latin American Studies at University of Cambridge

Joanna Page is Professor of Latin American Studies and the Director of CRASSH (the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of several books on cinema, graphic fiction, literature and visual art in Argentina, Chile, and Latin America more broadly. Many of her research projects focus on the relationship between science and the arts, but her interests also include posthumanism, new materialism, decoloniality and environmental thought in Latin America. Her most recent monograph was Decolonizing Science in Latin American Art (UCL Press, 2021). Other books published in the past few years include Geopolitics, Culture, and the Scientific Imaginary in Latin America (co-edited with María del Pilar Blanco, University Press of Florida, 2020) and Posthumanism and the Graphic Novel in Latin America (co-authored with Edward King, UCL Press, 2017).