Enfilade

Journal18, Fall 2022 — Silver

Posted in journal articles, reviews, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on November 30, 2022

In the latest issue of J18:

Journal18, Issue #14 (Fall 2022) — Silver
Issue edited by Agnieszka Anna Ficek and Tara Zanardi

I N T R O D U C T I O N

Agnieszka Anna Ficek and Tara Zanardi

In his 1656 treatise El Paraíso en el Nuevo Mundo, Antonio de León Pinelo contends that the amount of silver extracted from Potosí’s Cerro Rico was enough to build a bridge of silver from the top of the mountain to the doors of Madrid’s Royal Palace: 2,070 leagues long, 14 rods wide, and 4 fingers thick.[1] The vivid imagery of León Pinelo’s account encapsulates the magnitude of silver’s potential as the material foundation for a fantastical building project that could physically scale the earth much like the Spanish Empire did politically, militarily, and financially. Silver’s beauty, mutability, and strength coveted by Spanish colonists led to the production of spectacular objects, such as the ornamental plaque from a Jesuit Mission in the Andean highlands that serves as this issue’s cover image. At once luxurious and symbolic, the plaque’s decoration features tulips and other plants cultivated in Europe, interwoven in a repouséd floral ground with indigenous passion flowers (mburucuyà), nibbled by native birds, to create an image of a harmonious colonial society. Both the imaginary bridge and the ornamental plaque belie the violence the Spanish Crown and the Church exerted in subjugating native populations and instituting a system of forced labor to extract this precious metal.

Within and beyond the Spanish Empire, silver financed wars, upheld dynasties, and cemented political alliances. Forged into currency, silver funded slavery and the institution’s production of goods such as sugar and cacao. Silver was also valued around the globe for its pliability and sheen. From Beijing to Versailles, Mexico City to Lisbon, it furnished grand homes, glittering on dinner tables and dressing tables alike. Skilled artists manipulated silver into opulent objects, capitalizing on its luster to fabricate sinuous forms in small-scale decorative artworks as well as ambitious commissions that communicated wealth and political might.

This issue probes silver’s capacity for metamorphosis—from raw material into objects and currency. Such transformative characteristics made it a valuable medium for artists, a tool for global expansion, and a form of income for rebuilding state treasuries. . . .

Keep reading»

A R T I C L E S

• Dani Ezor — ‘White when Polished’: Race, Gender, and the Materiality of Silver at the Toilette
• Christina K. Lindeman — Silver Thread Textiles: Industry, Dynasty, and Political Power in Eighteenth-Century Prussia
• Susan Eberhard — The Asian Silver Chocolatière: The Transpacific World in a Diplomatic Gift

E X P L O R A T I O N S

• James Middleton — An Eighteenth-Century Portrait Miniature on Silver: An Artifact from the Silver Age of Mexico
• José Andrés De Leo Martínez — La distinción del cáliz de Puebla de los Ángeles en el s. XVIII, entre dos Mundos
• Christina Clarke — Reanimating the Goldsmith: An Artisanal Reading of the Archive

Cover image: Ornamental Plaque (mariola or maya), one of a pair, 1725–50, Moxos or Chiquitos missions, Alto Peru (present-day Bolivia), silver, 42 × 31 × 3 cm (Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 1992.346).

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R E C E N T  N O T E S  &  Q U E R I E S

• Jessica L. Fripp — Review of Raphaël Barontini’s show Blue Lewoz (Paris: Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, summer 2022), published in J18 October 2022. Link»
The title Blue Lewoz brings together léwoz, the music and dance created by the enslaved people on Guadaloupe, and indigo blue, a dye that was a staple of the transatlantic slave trade. Barontini writes on his Instagram that Creole Dancer was inspired by a 1950 collage by Matisse of the same name, and a tribute to the “Caribbean women and the place of the dance in the Guadeloupean léwoz tradition.” From this twentieth-century inspired work, viewers quickly moved into an alternative history of fashion and luxury of early modern Europe: collages that incorporate Jean-Marc Nattier’s eighteenth-century dresses, Bronzino’s elaborate fabrics, and Elizabethan ruffs. While Barontini’s appropriation and sources stretch wider than the long eighteenth century, many of the fashions in those portraits were the product of, as Alicia Caticha notes, “Atlantic slave trade and a host of other exploitative global networks.” And, as scholars such as Anne Lafont and Mechtild Fend have shown, portraits were often used to construct and highlight whiteness.[1] Barontini’s work reinvents those portraits and, through collage, tapestries, and textiles, celebrates resistance and Caribbean festivals. . .

• Michelle Sylliboy — “Artist’s Notes: Nm’ultes is an Active Dialogue: I Reclaiming Komqwejwi’kasikl, II An Autobiographical Creative Inquiry, and III forthcoming” published in J18 in three parts, June 2022, October 2022. Link»
Published in three installments, this intervention by L’nu interdisciplinary artist, poet, and scholar Michelle Sylliboy offers an Indigenous perspective on the colonial archive. Sylliboy responds to the dehumanizing accounts of her ancestors in Nouvelle Relation de la Gaspésie (Paris, 1691) and reclaims the komqwejwi’kasikl language from its author, French missionary Chrestien Le Clercq, who culturally appropriated its writing system. Using autobiographical creative inquiry and Nm’ultes theory, Sylliboy addresses the ongoing impact of settler colonialism on her people, the L’nuk. As a survivor of intergenerational trauma, she tells the intersecting stories of healing and reconnecting with the worldview of her ancestors, who have been caretakers of a land that stretches from the Gaspé peninsula to Newfoundland since immemorial times.

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