Portrait of a Nation

Landscape painting in Mexico often acted as a mechanism for colonial subjugation, perpetuating Eurocentric artistic and historical values. José María Velasco is considered one of the most influential artists who made Mexican geography a symbol of national identity through his landscape paintings. Velasco’s 19th century pastoral landscapes traced the shifting economies of objects in colonial Mexico, validating claims of legality by the settler state. Velasco’s pastoral landscapes aptly depict subjugation and colonial violence as normalized instruments of dispossession.

The video piece ‘portrait of a nation’ reexamines José María Velasco’s pastoral landscapes, situating them as instruments of surveillance and colonial violence. By rephotographing Velasco’s landscape paintings with a surveillance camera and re-staging them with the collaboration of the Indigenous Purhépecha’s in Mexico, this video piece addresses the complexities of the political geography of race in Mexico, rendering landscape painting and video technologies as surveillance assemblages.



Portrait of a Nation
Single Channel Video
B&W, Stereo
SD surveillance footage
11 mins.

A video by Victor Arroyo

Re-photography by Oswaldo Toledano.
Post-production by Oswaldo Toledano.
Sound design by Christian Olsen.



This video was produced with support from the residencies:

El Colegio De Michoacan
Centro de Estudios en Geografia Humana.
2015 – 2018

Mitacs Globalink Research Award.

[ LINK ]


Financial Support

Canada Council for the Arts.

Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement Supérieur.
Gouvernement du Québec.

Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, Recherche, Science et Technologie.
Gouvernement du Québec.

Concordia University.
Faculty of Fine Arts.


exhibitions | screenings

Festival International du Film sur l’Art

[ LINK ]

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