Sandra Gamarra Heshiki: Buen Gobierno

Sandra Gamarra Heshiki: Buen Gobierno

Sala Alcalá, 31

Sandra Gamarra Heshiki, Cabinet of Colonial Discomforts. Installation view, Sala Alcalá, 31, Madrid, 2021. Photo: Oak Taylor-Smith

September 30, 2021
Sandra Gamarra Heshiki
Buen Gobierno
September 16, 2021–January 16, 2022
Sala Alcalá 31
Calle de Alcalá, 31
28014 Madrid

Curator: Agustin Pérez Rubio

The exhibition Buen Gobierno (Good Government) by Peruvian artist Sandra Gamarra Heshiki is a visual exercise based on a critical approach to colonialism, which questions the established orders in the imaginaries of both Spanish and Peruvian societies with respect to the historical moment at which their two histories converged. The exhibition addresses the neo-colonialism that still prevails in Spain’s relationship with many Latin American cultures, focusing on the Andean context.

Buen Gobierno takes its title from Primera Nueva Crónica y Buen Gobierno (First New Chronicle and Good Government), a famous manuscript written around 1615 by Amerindian chronicler Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala to describe colonial Andean society, and request King Philip III of Spain to reform the viceregal government in order to save the Andean people from exploitation, disease, and racial mixing, synonymous with the destruction of the native culture.

In Buen Gobierno, Gamarra Heshiki builds her project on a conflicted space. She shows how the origin of Latin American nations is intimately linked to the birth of Spain/Europe itself, and how a critical look at the “good government” of these two legacies is key to building other forms of coexistence. Four hundred years after this manuscript, this racial and cultural mixing has not resulted in the disappearance of these civilizations but has instead—painfully, arduously, and almost in spite of each other—contributed to their development.

Race and gender relations run through the decolonial visual exercise put forward by Gamarra Heshiki. The exhibition as a whole is conceived as a hall of mirrors in which the pieces and spaces are repeated with slight variations through four rooms of hypothetical museums: Mirage Room, Exploration Room, Extraction Room and Cabinet of Colonial Discomforts. Painting is a catalyst for a particular way of representing the world, and also a tool for translating other sensibilities. Taking up the idea of painting as a chronicler of history, the show begins with a room of historicist paintings made as mirror images of each other, as if each side of the room reflected the same story differently. Thus, Gamarra Heshiki highlights the way in which hegemonic discourses have taken over the symbolic capital of history, erasing the narratives of indigenous and mestizo cultures.

Other recurring themes in Gamarra’s oeuvre explores the inadequacy of the extractivist idea of nature as a perpetual generator of wealth. At the same time, she looks at how Western museums continue to do the same with the cultures they conquered and plundered: presenting their “treasures” in sterile museum-mausoleums, forcing a strange, dissociated relationship between the contemporary, spiritual, and ancestral realms.

Good Government also includes works by other artists, from the important Caste Paintings commissioned by Viceroy Amat in 1770, to the work of contemporary Andean artists; from Tablas de Sarhua, such as Primitivo and Valeriana Evanán, engraved gourds by Sixto Seguil Dorregaray, and carnival masks worn in the Tunantada in Junin, etc. These artworks highlight the colonial weight that has been imposed through the artistic imaginary on the Western art world’s practices and ways of seeing.

A book published in conjunction with the exhibition includes new texts expressly written by María Íñigo Clavo, Miguel A. López, Sandra Gamarra Heshiki, and Agustín Pérez Rubio, reflecting on the many decolonial themes that appear in the artist’s work.

Sandra Gamarra Heshiki (b. Lima, Peru, 1972) currently lives and works between Lima and Madrid. She has exhibited at the 11th Berlin Biennale; the 29th São Paulo Art Biennial; IILA Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, and 11th Cuenca Biennial. Her work is included in museum collections such as the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; MACBA, Barcelona; Tate Modern, London; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; MoMA, New York; MALI, Lima and MAR, Rio de Janeiro.

The work of Sandra Gamarra Heshiki is represented by Galería Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid; Galería Leme, São Paulo and Galería Livia Benavides, Lima.

Press: comunicacion.espaciosarte [​at​]

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Sala Alcalá, 31
September 30, 2021

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