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Tomás Sánchez on Exorbitance: Still Lifes of the Tropical Landfill

Francisco-J. Hernández Adrián
The Global South
Vol. 6, No. 1, Special Issue: States of Freedom: Freedom of States (Spring 2012), pp. 15-37
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/globalsouth.6.1.15
Stable URL:
Page Count: 23
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Tomás Sánchez on Exorbitance: Still Lifes of the Tropical Landfill
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ABSTRACT This essay seeks to make sense of a series of disturbing artworks that can be read as expressions of both Caribbean and global forms of environmental and geopolitical exorbitance. Cuban artist Tomás Sánchez has been thinking and unthinking landscape as a genre since the 1970s, and has painted a large number of tropical scenes that stage Caribbean nature in both stereotypical and ironic ways. His parallel series of “wastescapes” is an eccentric aspect of his work on landscape aesthetics. This essay argues that Sánchez's depictions of large tropical landfills call for our attentive questioning as viewers, while beckoning us to locate our visual approach in non-pictorial and therefore unsettling and self-conscious ways. The essay proposes the notion of exorbitance as a visual trope in Sánchez's work, and defines it as an enabling critical strategy that allows us to reflect on island and Caribbean environments in global terms.

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