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Columbia University AOA Seminar – Lisa Trever (Columbia)

March 6, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Denaturalizing Moche Naturalism
Lisa Trever, Lisa and Bernard Selz Associate Professor in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology, Columbia University

Columbia University Seminar on the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas Lecture
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Reception at 6:00 PM / Lecture at 6:30 PM

NOTE: Seating is extremely limited. RSVP to Sophia Ariel Merkin (sam2192@columbia.edu)

The ancient Moche artists of coastal Peru have long been lauded in art historical and archaeological scholarship for their abilities to recreate living forms in fired clay. Among the earliest objects of Moche facture to be admitted to the modern Western realm of art as such are the virtuosic portrait vessels and other lively ceramic depictions of flora and fauna. Their likenesses are so compelling that early modern collections were inventoried according to the species depicted and scholars have argued for the identifications of particular historical individuals within the ceramic archive. But when the corpus of Moche ceramic art is more broadly considered, and when the taxonomies imposed on it through foreign epistemologies are suspended, its defiance of expected Western order becomes apparent. In this presentation I explore ways that images of living beings were formally and symbolically entangled in Moche art, sometimes to “surreal” effect. These entanglements reveal emic perspectives on substance, being, and the expressive power of plastic imagination that exceeds the limits of “naturalism.”


March 6, 2019
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Columbia University Seminar on the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas


832 Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University