Spring 2021

The Art of Lying: Deception in Modern & Contemporary Latin American Art

, 4 pts, GR6442

The Art of Lying

Plato banished poets from his Republic on the account of their being thrice removed from the truth. Accused of artfully and seductively lying, poets were deemed dangerous, confusing, and unfit to guarantee the stability of the polis and were consequently extricated from it. Since then, the relationship between art and truth has been a contentious one. Art is fiction and fiction, at least in common parlance, is opposed to fact, to things as they really are. This historical kinship with lying has often justified accusations of art as being a frivolous, lighthearted discipline, detached from the real. It has also, however, equipped artists with a ‘license to lie’—a prerogative that they have used frequently to reclaim art’s position in the realm of the real, to reinstate the poet’s place in the polis.

This seminar will interrogate modern and contemporary artistic practices that have an act of deception at their core—pieces that, for some people and for some time, succeed in obscuring their fictional origins and acquired truth status. We will couple case study analysis with discussion of theoretical works to explore questions such as: How do these practices structure and produce their lies? In what ways do their acts of deception posit a different understanding of the real?  How do these practices dialogue with and intervene in the philosophical debates that have explored the tensions between art and truth? What does it mean to lie after the ‘postmodern turn’? How do different definitions of the real affect the interpretation and effects of these works? What is the role of belief in understanding and assessing these practices?

Since we will mostly study Latin American works, we will also speculate about the possibilities of identifying the peculiarities of the region’s relation to deception, both inside and outside the boundaries of the art world.

The course will culminate with a symposium, open to the public, at which students will present their research. Presentations will be followed by discussion, and the symposium will include the participation of an artist and a scholar whose works explore some of the issues studied over the semester.

Section Number
Call Number
Day, Time & Location
R 1:00PM-3:00PM 309 Hamilton Hall
Jeronimo Duarte Riascos