Ideological Entanglements and Political Fictions: Art and Architecture in Venezuela

Lisa Blackmore & Jennifer Burris
Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 6PM

Suspended above the audience seating of the Aula Magna auditorium in Caracas, Alexander Calder’s Acoustic Ceiling deploys sculpture as a way of shaping the sonic experience of theatrical space. This conversation will explore a different resonance of Calder’s work: namely, the political and ideological implications of cultural modernity within Venezuela during the twentieth century. Anchored in Lisa Blackmore’s groundbreaking study Spectacular Modernity: Dictatorship, Space and Visuality in Venezuela, 1948–1958 (U.P. Pittsburgh, 2017), curator Jennifer Burris and professor Lisa Blackmore will discuss the deployment of architecture and public spectacle as justification for censorship and authoritarianism as well as the tension between progressive aesthetics and repressive politics. Touching upon a broader rethinking of modernism in Latin America—in particular, the shifting nature of modernism as it migrates between places and across geographies—this far-reaching conversation will weave between political and cultural histories as it explores the manifold implications of a single, iconic artwork.

This talk is the third in a series of interdisciplinary conversations with experts from acoustics, art, architecture, and music that will explore the historic and contemporary resonances of the iconic Venezuelan hall.

Tuning Calder’s Clouds, edited by Vic Brooks and Jennifer Burris, will be published in fall 2022 in a collaboration between EMPAC at Rensselaer, the Calder Foundation, and Athénée Press. It is the first book to explore the artistic, technological, and political intersections of Alexander Calder’s sculptural Acoustic Ceiling and includes contributions by Dr. Lisa Blackmore, Sylvia Hernández de Lasala, María Fernanda Jaua, Dr. Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, Rafael Pereira Escalona, Dr. Juan Pérez Hernández, Jonas Braasch, Johannes Goebel, Aimon Mata, Alexander S.C. Rower, Rafael Santana, Gryphon Rue, Ana Navas, and Mirtru Escalona-Mijares.

Cuando los nubes eran las olas (When the clouds were waves) by Ana Navas and Mirtru Escalona-Mijares engages these complex legacies in the production of a new work currently in development in EMPAC’s Concert Hall and created for the Acoustic Ceiling at Aula Magna.


Lisa Blackmore & Jennifer Burris' talk, Ideological Entanglements and Political Fictions: Art and Architecture in Venezuela. December 8, 2021.

Ileana Ramírez Romero in conversation with Vic Brooks in Studio Beta. November 12, 2019.

When the Clouds Were Waves: Ana Navas in conversation with Vic Brooks. December 2020

Johannes Goebel and Jonas Braasch's talk Concert Hall Acoustics: From Flying Saucers to Fabric Sails. November 3, 2021.

Dates + Tickets

Ideological Entanglements and Political Fictions: Art and Architecture in Venezuela
Lisa Blackmore & Jennifer Burris
Wednesday 8
6:00 PM
December 2021
Presented By

EMPAC Fall 2021

Event Type



This project is made possible with funds from the NYSCA Electronic Media/Film in Partnership with Wave Farm: MAAF Forward Fund with the support of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.