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Art and Architecture on the "Ruta de la Plata": survey and mapping of old churches with mural paintings preserved on the route between Potosí and Arica

Grant number: 23/15740-1
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2024
Effective date (End): March 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Architecture and Town Planning - Fundamentals of Architecture and Urbanism
Principal Investigator:Renata Maria de Almeida Martins
Grantee:Denilson Choquecallata Colque
Host Institution: Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo (FAU). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:21/06538-9 - Baroque-açu: Portuguese America in the art geography of the global South, AP.JP2


This scientific initiation project aims to carry out a survey and mapping of the mural paintings preserved in churches located on the well-known Ruta de la Plata (silver route), specifically comprising the old road between Potosi and Arica. The process of Spanish colonization that took place in the 16th century, as well as representing a stage in the primitive accumulation of capital through the mita system, introduced models and repertoires from Europe to these regions, and in this way, when put into tension with those of the Inca cultures, gave rise to what Gauvin Bailey called "Hybrid Andean Baroque" (BAILEY, 2010). The discovery of the silver mine in Potosí in 1545 and its economic importance throughout the 15th and 16th centuries (GUTIÉRREZ, 1983) sparked the crown's interest in restoring the old communication routes in order to reuse them, facilitating, for example, the transportation of coca leaves from Cusco to Potosí, since coca had properties that attenuated the feeling of tiredness, which was of great value to the miners, who were subjected to an intense workload and exploitation within the mines.Another important road that was reused was the one between Potosí and Arica, where the official port of the Spanish Crown was located, used for the entry of mercury for the silver mines of Potosí, as well as for the export of silver to Seville. Today, along this route, there are at least five churches that preserve their 18th century mural painting programs, all of which were created with the participation of indigenous communities, and which are located in the pueblos of Parinacota, Pachama, Curahuara de Carangas, Soracachi and Copacabana de Andamarca; the first two in the region of Arica and Parinacota in Chile and the last three in the region of Oruro in Bolivia (GUZMÁN; CORTI et al, 2021). In order to contribute to a better understanding of this important heritage, carried out with the participation of local communities and painters, this scientific initiation aims to build on the important studies carried out in Spanish-speaking countries on these mural paintings (GISBERT, 2008, CORTI; GUZMÁN et al, 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021), to carry out a survey of those still preserved today, gathering their programs, their iconographies and their materiality, giving relevance to indigenous participation in the realization of local mural paintings in church interiors (TOMASINI; SIRACUSANO et al, 2018).By surveying and mapping the locations and churches where mural paintings are still preserved between Potosí and Arica, this Scientific Initiation project, from a South American perspective, will address a relevant set of pictorial artistic manifestations that are not yet sufficiently known in Brazil, collaborating directly with the objectives of Fapesp's Phase 2 Young Researcher Project, Barroco-Açu. Portuguese America in the Artistic Geography of the Global South (process nº 2021/06538-9).

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