Ana Paula Salvat: The City as Exhibition Space: A Decolonial Approach from the Zócalo, Mexico City

The Mexico City main square, officially named The Constitution Square, but popularly known as „Zócalo“, is a potent political and cultural urban space that concentrates the representative architecture of power while also being a stage for artistic performances and political demonstration. The „Zócalo“ was the paradigm for Latin American Plazas and the spatial representation of the local society. However, its configuration is based on the urban design of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, founded in 1325, and one of the most populous and sophisticated cities in the world by the time the Spaniards arrived in 1519. The research will raise contemporary and transdisciplinary issues to demonstrate the relevance of Amerindian knowledge to the transcultural constitution of the Baroque from a decolonial perspective, while also pointing to the image of the city built in historiographic and iconographic colonial discourse. This project seeks to understand the visual strategy of power applied to the city’s center in the advent of the Modern Era, as well as to create decolonial instruments for reading the urban space in its layers by finding the contributors of its morphology and aesthetics, and highlighting the importance of Mexico City in this process. From a global perspective, it will include Amerindian History in Art History as a crucial element of identity in Latin America.

Ana Paula Salvat holds a BA in Arts, a BA in Art History and an MA in Arts. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Post-Graduation Interunits Program in Aesthetics and Art History of the University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil. Her research focuses on the formation of the Constitution Square of Mexico City and the display of its artistic, urban, and architectural elements as representations of power, arguing that colonialism built a discourse that tried to erase the importance of the indigenous culture and knowledge in the history of Latin American art, architecture, and urbanism. Overall, her work aims to promote a contemporary reading of cities as exhibition spaces, relating their visual language and symbolism with social-political power using a decolonial approach. This current research started with a grant from the project “New Art Histories”, a joint venture between the University of Zurich and the Federal University of São Paulo, as part of the initiative “Connecting Art Histories”, sponsored by the Getty Foundation, which included field research  trips to Europe and Latin America. Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, she has also worked in museums in the fields of cataloging, conservation, and collection research. Since 2011, she has been a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM).


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