The Potosi Principle: How Can We Sing the Song of the Lord in an Alien Land?

The Potosi Principle: How Can We Sing the Song of the Lord in an Alien Land?

Workshop with Alice Creischer, Max Jorge Hinderer and Andreas Siekmann.

Centre for Research Architecture, RHB 312, Goldsmiths.
Friday – Feb 10: Starting at 10am. All welcome.


The Potosi Principle:

At the beginning of the 17th Century, Potosí was one of the largest cities in the world – comparable to London or Paris. During the Spanish colonial rule, enormous quantities of silver were shipped from Potosí to Europe, thus giving the early capitalist system a tremendous push, and initiating the start of the modern era.

During the Counter-Reformation, this dynamic triggered a mass production of images, not only in Spain, but also in the Viceroyalty of Peru.

The exhibition “The Potosí Principle” traces the circulation of money and art, which developed during that period. A selection of images from the “Andean Baroque” enters into dialogue with contemporary works of art which make reference to the present: whether it is the migrant workers in China who made the economic miracle there possible, or the economic power Dubai, which – with the help of cultural managers from Europe – seeks to reinvent itself as an art metropolis.The tour of the exhibition projects a kaleidoscope of a globalized society in which the principle of exploitation is still as prevalent as it was in the early days of modernity.


Reading/Reference Material

Exhibition Guide

Exhibition Catalogue (in spanish)


About the exhibition:

Potosí, the famous silver-mining city, synonymous with immense wealth and unbridled exploitation, was the capital of the mining industry in Latin America from the 16th to the 18th century and played a crucial role in the development of European capitalism and the migrations associated with it. Even today, the expression ‘vale un Potosí’ / ‘worth a fortune’ is commonly used in Spanish.

It marked a critical approach and another way of looking at the Bicentenario – the 200th anniversary of the independence movement in Latin America. It addresses the relationships between trade and art transfers and economic structures and ways of thinking in Latin America and Europe and their social effects on both continents, both before and after the citizens’ revolutions of the 19th century.

The ‘Andean Baroque’ works presented in The Potosí-Principle prove that cultural hegemony is a reflection not of cultural greatness, but of violence. The exhibition uses this form of painting to investigate structural similarities between the colonialism that brought forth Modernism and the current global regime of Neoliberalism. Contemporary artists respond to the baroque images with their own works. In this way, they create a link to issues still current today, such as the role of women in colonial society or the effects of the transnational soy bean monoculture on modern-day South America.

The exhibition was shown at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid and Haus der Kulturen der Weltand in 2010, and also travelled to the Museo Nacional de Arte and the Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore in La Paz.



Alice Creischer (*1960, Gerolstein, Alemania) es artista y escritora; vive en Berlín. En 2004 comisarió, junto con Andreas Siekmann, el proyecto Ex Argentina en el Museo Ludwig, en Colonia (Alemania); y en 2002 la exposición Die Gewalt ist der Rand aller Dinge en la Generali Foundation de Viena (Austria).

Andreas Siekmann (b. 1961 in Hamm, Germany) is an artist and writer living in Berlin. His works explore the privatization of public space and the restructuring of labor relations under the conditions of globalization. Together with Alice Creischer he curated the project Ex Argentina at Museum Ludwig, Cologne, in 2004 and the exhibition Die Gewalt ist der Rand aller Dinge at the Generali Foundation, Vienna, in 2002.

Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz (b. 1980 in Heidelberg, Germany) is a writer and art critic living in Berlin. From 2005–2007 he did research on the Christian-iconic implications at political demonstrations in Santa Cruz, Bolivia (“Proyecto Palmasola,” in collaboration with Katherine Braun). His most recent books are Pok ta Pok. Aneignung—Macht—Kunst (with Jens Kastner, eds) (Vienna, 2007), and TO SHOW IS TO PRESERVE—Figures and Demonstrations (with Martin Beck et al.,eds), a publication on the exhibition of the same title at the Halle für Kunst Lüneburg, 2008.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2012 at 11:46 am
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