Conceptual Stumblings

A revision of the last 50 years of visual arts in Chile that aims to consolidate a new body of knowledge about Chilean contemporary art. The initiative was conceived as a circuit of communication and scholarly exchange around concrete objectives: the organization of round tables and seminars in Harvard and in Santiago; the production of two exhibitions featuring the works of Chilean contemporary artists, and the creation of a digital volume on Chilean contemporary art. A shared interest in the cultural legacy of conceptual art practices forged in Chile during moments of state-sponsored oppression brings together the artists and researchers involved in this initiative.

Initiative organized by Thomas B.F. Cummins (Harvard University,)  Sergio Delgado Moya (University of Chicago,) José Luis Falconi (University of Connecticut,)  and Marcela V. Ramos (Harvard University)

Current Work (Digital Volume)

The research team is currently working towards 
the production of a digital volumen that brings together three distinct and interrelated components. First, edited and (re)organized excerpts from the first phase conversations between Chilean artists and Harvard scholars held at Harvard in 2009 and 2010. Second, a series of essays by emerging art and literary critics from Chile and the United States, essays that contextualize and respond to the excerpts from the artist conversations. Third, a visual archive documenting the most salient moments in the history of experimental art in Chile from the 1950s to date. 

Digital volume edited by Sergio Delgado Moya (University of Chicago), José Falconi (University of Connecticut), and Maria José Delpiano (Universidad Alberto Hurtado de Chile). Coordinated by Marcela V. Ramos


Initial Research (Round Tables)

Phase 1

The point of departure for this project is a series of conversations on Chilean conceptual art organized by Marcela V. Ramos, José Falconi, and Professor Thomas Cummins and held at Harvard during 2009 and 2010. The conversations centered on the history of experimental art in Chile since the 1970s. They brought together artists active during the period in question as well as contemporary artists whose work has been shaped by the legacy of conceptual artists working during the most violent period of political oppression in Chile. The result of these conversations was a rich body of knowledge produced collectively by key figures in the recent history of Chilean art: Alfredo Jaar, Raúl Zurita, Iván Navarro, Cristóbal Lehyt, Catalina Parra, Arturo Duclos, Camilo Yáñez, Felipe Mujica, Ronald Kay, Mario Navarro, Patrick Hamilton, Bernardo Oyarzún, Johanna Unzueta, Ignacio Gumucio, Samy Benmayor, Carlos Altamirano, and Paz Errázuriz. Participating Faculty: Thomas Cummins, Doris Sommer, Luis Cárcamo-Huechante, Ernesto Livón-Grosman, Robin Greeley, Fernando Rosenberg.

Phase 2

Conceptual Stumblings was awarded the Harvard-Chile Innovation Initiative grant, sponsored by Chile’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) and the Ministry of Economy, which provides start-up funds for research collaborations between Harvard and Chilean academics. Professors Sergio Delgado and Thommas Cummins together with Marcela V. Ramos partnered with Liz Munsell, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) and the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (MSSA) to organize an additional set of round tables seeking to include additional Chilean voices to the discussion.

Table 1: El texto como registro led by Professor Thommas Cummins
Participants: Pablo Chiuminatto, Federico Galende, Alejandra Wolf
Table 2: El texto crítico y el lenguaje visual en movimientos led by Liz Munsell

Participants: Sergio Rojas, Soledad García, Cristián Silva, Paulina Varas, Claudia Aravena
Table 3: Lenguajes mudos, vacíos plenos, pensamientos encarnados led by porfessor Sergio Delgado

Participants: Ana María Risco, María Jose Delpiano, Natalia Babarovic, Jorge Polanco


Phase 3

In 2014, a two-days seminar was organized with Chilean and Harvard-based scholars who were asked to present essays that would be included in a forthcoming volume. A group of scholars from the Boston and New York area responded to the presentations.

Participating contributors: Natalia Brizuela, University of California, Berkeley; Tom Cummins, Harvard University; Sergio Delgado, Harvard University; Maria José Delpiano, Universidad Católica, Chile; Jerónimo Duarte, Harvard University; Jose Falconi, Independent curator and artist, Boston; Liz Munsell, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Gerardo Pulido, Universidad Católica, Chile; Ana María Risco, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile. Participating respondants: Daniela Rivera , Daniel Quiles , Robing Greeley , Ana María Reyes , Ernesto Livon-Grosman.

Related Exhibitions

Two exhibitions were co-organized by the DRCLAS Art, Film, & Culture Program as part of its long-term research project Conceptual Stumblings

Ausencia encarnada. Efimeralidad y colectividad en el arte Chileno de los años setenta 
On view at the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende| September 26, 2015 - January 26, 2016

Embodied Absence: Chilean Art of the 1970s Now 
On view at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University | October 26, 2016 - January 8, 2017