“Numina”, a look at Latino cultural devotions

The most recent work of the Colombian photographer John Alonso will adorn the halls and corridors of the Santa Clara Museum with exposure “Numin”which reflects the cultural and popular richness that is part of the identity, idiosyncrasy, spirituality and devotions of Latin American culture.

This Thursday, starting at 3:00 pm, this temporary exhibition will be inaugurated, which will feature the words of Constance Toquicadirector of the Colonial and Santa Clara Museums and a conversation with the anthropologist German Ferro Medina on popular saints and a tour of an exhibition by the artist.

The name that the Colombian photographer gave to this exhibition is the plural form of the Latin noun “numen”, which originally designated certain Roman deities. Currently, “numen” names the magical power that can exist in an object.

This exhibition is part of an investigation into various “pagan saints” from Latin America. Thus, among other characters, in “Numina” we see images of the Mexican Jesus Malverde, a highwayman from the beginning of the last century; the chief Guaicaipuro; Mary Lionza Y Saint Gilda.

The set is completed by other characters who, like those already mentioned, without being recognized by the Church, were popularly declared saints. Therefore, a mixture between the sacred and the profane is consumed in them, which has wide diffusion throughout Latin America.

Alonso affirms that “the interest of the project lies in seeing how this syncretism manages to produce certain characters, with whom, from the surreal, they can make sacred Catholic figures coexist with thugs, policemen, singers, indigenous people, liberators, among others; in a mixture closer to the real and wonderful than to the properly religious”.

With “Numina”, the artist and photographer intends to show the richness of popular culture that syncretizes the Catholic religion with secular beliefs. Such a mixture shows that look devoid of conflict, typical of many people in Colombia and Latin America. Its result is these characters, some Catholics; others, distanced from the institutional sanctity of the Church, but that, in general, people feel closer to their personal identities and problems.

In dialogue with the precinct of the former Clarian church, The exhibition will feature a series of photographs and photo sculptures in different formats. Each piece represents an image of some popular saint, personified by the author of the project. In the exhibition there will also be a photobook with prayers, novenas and information about the characters portrayed by Alonso; books with biographies or analyzes of these characters; studio albums recorded by Gilda; original statuettes of other popular saints and visual and sound archive material.

“Numina” will be accompanied by a series of activities from the Museum’s educational and cultural agenda, including talks and workshops that will complement the exhibition in order to generate greater interaction with the public. The exhibition will be open until July 24 and can be visited during the usual hours of the Museum (Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm) with free admission on Wednesday afternoons and Sundays all day.

This artistic project was funded by the Center for Research and Creation, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Universidad de los Andes.

“Numina”, a look at Latino cultural devotions