Jerónimo Duarte-Riascos

Jerónimo Duarte-Riascos

Jerónimo Duarte-Riascos is a scholar of modern and contemporary Latin American art, literature, and culture. His research, teaching, and curatorial projects concentrate on interdisciplinary practices that thematize the perception, communication, and construction of communal experiences of the real.

Prior to joining Columbia, he was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University and lectured at The University of Chicago. He has worked at several museums, including The Museum of Modern Art, NYC, and the Harvard Art Museums, and he is a founding member of the curatorial collective de cabeza curaduría. He completed his PhD in Spanish and Latin American Literatures with a secondary field in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University.

Informed by a keen interest in the cultural and historical specificities that have conditioned the understanding and use of fiction in Latin America, I investigate larger questions such as:

  • What is the role of art, artificiality, and fiction in the (re)construction of the real from both a contemporary and historical perspective?
  • How does art envision and materialize epistemological and ontological alternatives to those developed by the Western tradition?
  • What is the role of belief in securing the efficacy of art?
  • How can an interdisciplinary approach to these questions further discussions concerning the arguably trite art/life binary?
  • How do artistic practices contribute to the translation, alteration, conditioning, deciphering, and modification of our knowledge of the world?

My current book project, Prosthetic Beings – Latin American Artistic Practices and the (Re)Construction of Alterity, examines works of art that, through a combination of literature, visuality, and emancipated acts of spectatorship, function as platforms for the creation of beings—often artists—whose existence is affected by what I call the prosthetic condition.

I define the prosthetic condition as an immaterial way of being that affects entities produced artificially and that have the potential to generate effects akin to those produced by non-artificial entities, as a consequence of both the operations of construction that bring them into being and the operations of belief that sustain them.

The book concentrates on four distinct case studies to argue that the prosthetic beings at the center of them enact, imagine, and illustrate two distinct phenomena. First, an alternative ontology that escapes the historical art/life binary. Second, an understanding of Otherness that is structured upon admiration, desire, and playful provocation.  

Beginning with the work of Mario Bellatin in Part I, I conceptualize the prosthetic condition as a theoretical tool that allows me to see, in Bellatin and others, a methodology that makes a different way of being possible—one that protects the desire for mutability and contingency that characterizes some preoccupations in contemporary art while, simultaneously, offering a concrete and effective (albeit non-essential) ontology.

Part 2 of the book uses this theoretical tool to examine the creation and impact of two prosthetic artists: Juan Trepadori and Pedro Manrique Figueroa. I argue that their circulation and coming into existence offer playful alternatives to often-oppressive ideas of the Other that the colonial project has solidified through decades of underscoring an artificial and constitutive riven between alterity and identity.

Concurrently, I am also working on two additional research projects. The first, Ways of Living: Alternative Communities in Modern and Contemporary Latin America, studies efforts spearheaded by artists that aspired to create physical and virtual spaces for dwelling where art, literature, architecture, philosophy, and politics could overlap and coalesce. The second, The Unintelligibility of the Real, concentrates on contemporary artists who use fiction to question our ability to understand the world and reintroduce doubt as the guiding principle of relationality and sense-making.

* “Towards a Definition of The Prosthetic Condition: Mario Bellatin, Simón Hosie and Other Ways of Inhabiting Contemporaneity” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies (Forthcoming 2024)

* “A Contemporary Cabinet of Curiosities: Play, Improbability, and the Reinvention of the World in Liliana Porter’s El hombre con el hacha y otras situaciones breves” in Nicolás Campisi and Lucas Mertehikian, eds, Back to the Museum: The Boom of Natural History in Latin American Culture (Forthcoming 2024)

* “Ways of Lying: Parafiction in Contemporary Latin American ArtDiscourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture, Vol. 45, Iss. 1, Article 3, 2023.

* “La estrategia del pájaro carpintero: consideraciones sobre la vigencia y singularidad de las Yeguas del Apocalipsis,” in Sergio Delgado, María José Delpiano and José Falconi, eds., Conceptual Stumblings: Arte en Chile, 1960s – 2000s, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, 2022.

* “La Violeta: Making the Transparent Opaque in Violeta Parra’s Work,” in Patricia Vilches, ed., Mapping Violeta Parra’s Cultural Landscapes, Palgrave MacMillan, 2017

* “Aureliano Babilonia es un abaporú. Iteración y lenguaje en la construcción de identidades.” Revista de Estudios de Literatura Colombiana. Número 36, Universidad de Antioquia, 2015.

* “Andrés Di Tella y yo.” Tiresias. Journal of Culture, Politics, and Critical Theory. Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Issue 6 – Elements of Matter, University of Michigan, 2014.

* “Reading Through Art for the Worlds to Come. A Pedagogical Take on the Ever-Present (and Ever-Pressing) Question What Can Art Do?,Revista Letral, Número 10, 2013.

* “También la interpretación es un collage: conjeturas en torno a Pedro Manrique Figueroa,” Revista Perífrasis, Número 1, Universidad de los Andes, 2010.

Exhibition Catalogues

Prosthetic Realities: Fake Truths and True Lies in Colombian Contemporary Art, co-authored with Catalina Acosta-Carrizosa. David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, 2016.

Este: coordenadas itinerantes, co-authored with Catalina Acosta-Carrizosa, 15 Salones Regionales de Artistas, Ministerio de Cultura, 2015.

Book Reviews

* Review of Non-Literary Fiction: Art of the Americas Under Neoliberalism by Esther Gabara (University of Chicago Press, 2022) in Hispanic Review, vol. 91, n.4, 2023, p. 657-660.

* Review of In Search of The Third Bird: Exemplary Essays from The Proceedings of ESTAR(SER), D. Graham Burnett, Catherine L. Hansen, and Justin E.H. Smith, eds., Strange Attractor Press, 2021 in The Brooklyn Rail, November 2022.