The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC presents a rich and varied exploration of Peruvian history and culture in its new exhibition Luminescence: The Silver of Peru from October 5 to December 16. This Canadian premiere exhibition traces Peru’s long history of silverwork – from the pre-Columbian era to the modern age – and the fascination with the metal’s divine and luminescent qualities. The exhibition is curated by MOA Director Dr. Anthony Shelton and organized by the Patronato Plata del Perú and MOA.
“One can only imagine the incredible impact that gleaming, polished silver must have had in pre-Columbian Peru. Garbed in the precious metal, radiating and reflecting the harsh desert light, the Incans and their predecessors would have appeared as deities,” says Dr. Shelton. “What is fascinating is that as the region underwent immense and sweeping changes in subsequent centuries, the cultural importance of silver remained alive. In Luminescence, we explore what this substance and its incredible, reflective properties have meant to Peru throughout the eras.”
The exhibition will feature over 140 artifacts, including national treasures assembled from a variety of sources as well as that of the Patronato Plata del Peru. The objects, which include regalia, sculpture, jewelry, paintings, and masks, are drawn from four periods of the country’s long and vast history: pre-Columbian, colonial, Republican, and contemporary.
In pre-Columbian Peru, bursts of bright light from silver regalia would have danced across royal courts, ceremonies, processions and battlefields. Items from the period include crowns, jewelry, costumes, and banners, whose luminosity proclaimed the divine power and authority of Andean priests and rulers for nearly 2,500 years.
[Milagro votive offering. Vivian and Jaime Liebana Collection, Peru.]
In the colonial era, the importance of the reflective properties and divine qualities traditionally associated with gold and silver were not forgotten despite the 16th century Spanish conquest. New techniques were developed to satisfy the novel demands of the Catholic Church and vice-regal elite, including the use of precious metals in paintings.
Silver saw a decline in use in post-Independence Peru and would not be fully embraced by the country’s artists again until the 20th century. In the last section of the exhibition, contemporary expression fuses with traditional ideas and techniques. Many of its objects are winning entries from the Patronato Plata del Peru’s National Silver Contest, an annual competition that encourages the use of the precious metal.
Complementing the exhibition will be a series of special events, stimulating dialogues, and exhibition-enriching experiences, including:
Lecture: Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert
Thursday, October 4, 2 pm
Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert (History and Classical Studies, McGill University) will speak about his research in the social and environmental history of natural resource extraction in Latin America.
Thursday, October 4, 7 pm
A celebration of the new exhibition with a live performance by Pacifika, featuring Silvana Kane, vocalist/lyricist, Adam Popowitz, guitarist, and Toby Peter, bassist/drummer.
Patronato Plata del Perú Lecture by José Torres Della Pina
Friday, October 5, 2pm
José Torres Della Pina, a director of the Patronato Plata del Peru, will present “1,000 Years in the Development of Techniques in Peruvian Silversmithing.”
Lecture: Maya Stanfield-Mazzi
Tuesday, October 9, 7 pm
Maya Stanfield-Mazzi, a specialist in Pre-Columbian and Latin American Art from the University of Florida, will speak about luminescence in Peruvian art and ceremony.
MOA Curator Talk with Anthony Shelton
Sunday, October 14, 1 pm
MOA Director and exhibit curator Dr. Anthony Shelton will discuss the research he undertook to develop the exhibition.
Tuesday Evening “Conversations”
A series of “conversations” and discussions with members of UBC’s and SFU’s Latin American Studies Programmes and their special guests:
Tuesday, October 16, 6 pm to 8 pm
Jon Beasley-Murray (Director of Latin American Studies Program, UBC), and Alejandra Bronfman (History, UBC) will co-host this session.
Current Affairs in Peru: Commodities, Conflict and Democracy
Tuesday, October 30, 6 pm to 8 pm
Maxwell Cameron (Political Science UBC), Fabiola Bazo (Senior Industry Development Officer for Industry Canada), Ronald Wright (historian, novelist, essayist) and Jonathan Manthorpe (International Affairs columnist, Vancouver Sun)
The Political Economy of Mining
Tuesday, November 6, 6 pm to 8 pm
Alec Dawson (History, SFU), Mauricio Drelichman (Economics, UBC) and Marcello Veiga (Mining Engineering, UBC)
The History of 16th and 17th century Andean Silver Mining
Tuesday, November 13, 6 pm to 8 pm
Kenneth Mills (History, University of Toronto) and Neil Safier (History, UBC)
Visiting Artists: “Uqllu” by “Alpaca de los Andes” Artisans
Peruvian textile makers Lucia Andrade De Laureano and Clelia Margarita Ricra Ricaldi will demonstrate their weaving techniques and discuss their work to develop the “Uqllu” brand, a product from the “Alpaca de los Andes” line, a new line of alpaca clothing and accessories inspired by Pan American Silver Corp.’s sustainability work in Perú.
Artist Demonstrations at the MOA Shop
Monday, November 19, 11 am to 7 pm and Tuesday, November 20, noon to 4 pm
Public Talks and Demonstrations at the Textile Research Room
November 21 – 23, 1 pm to 3 pm
MOA is located at 6393 NW Marine Drive (at the UBC Campus) in Vancouver.