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Alexander Apóstol - Incas Room

From the series: "Incas Room"

Digital Photography
100 x 150 cm
4 Images

About this series:
After researching the Visual Arts program and visiting the building located at 680 Park Avenue, Apóstol choose the so-called Incas Room, an emblematic space located on the third floor of the Americas Society’s Georgian-style building. Used as the organization’s meeting spot for its internal affairs, the Incas Room’s walls are decorated with hand-blocked wallpaper printed in France by A. Leroy in 1832, which represents different scenes of the arrival of Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro to Perú. The scene, depicted in a typical ninetieth-century manner, conveys an exoticized landscape where the native dwellers of the Inca Empire cheerfully receive a triumphant Pizarro to their paradise land. Pizarro was particularly known for the cruelty and avarice when he conquered Cajamarca and brutally killed Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, whom tried in vain to trade his life for gold and treasures that Pizarro took without pardoning his life.

Apóstol’s conceptual approach portrays a 360° panoramic view of the Incas room through a series of paired images in which binary antagonisms between geography and history are produced through stereoscopic vision. The artist compares the territorial surface of countries like Peru, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Chile with the surface of states like Alaska, Massachusetts, New York, and Montana* through captions printed at the bottom of the left hand side image. From this perspective, territorial extension is proportionate to the power achieved by the nation-state as an entity tied to the very notion of democracy. In contrast, Apóstol brings into play random dates in which those countries were politically unstable that are printed at the bottom of the right hand side image. Both images left and right are matted within a white frame and their captions are written with red fonts, creating the effect of an elegant real estate advertising campaign where the beholder can project his or her fantasies on the image of the property they hope to buy. The paired images also suggest that geographical as well as historical facts are dialectically construed. If geography is the science of studying “the systems and processes involved in the world's weather, mountains, seas, lakes, etc. and of the ways in which countries and people organize life within an area” Apóstol’s visual stratagem emphasizes how scientific classifications reflect structures of power.

Gabriela Rangel M.

* Comparison taken from the web site of the Central Intelligence Agency CIA.