Bolívar as an icon and Bolívarian symbolism has been both anchored and destabilized—hinged and unhinged—to stand for competing ideas and ideologies. From Pedro José Figueroa’s iconic painting of Simón Bolívar, Libertador and Father of the Nation (1819) to contemporary examples such as the performance work by Venezuelan artist collective Nascimento/Lovera, Untitled Mulaló (2008), “Bolívar” has functioned as a cultural sign for debates about the national body. The introduction situates the book within the legacy of Germán Carrera Damas’ Culto a Bolívar (1969) and subsequent work by historians and cultural studies scholars, with a particular debt to anthropologist Yolanda Salas de Lecuna. The introduction outlines the structure of the book in three parts: first, Bolívar’s emerging iconicity as formed in the nineteenth century; second, twentieth century disruptions and unhingings; and third, re-anchorings of “Bolívar” as a sign in contemporary examples. Rather than proposing a definitive study, the collection promises to open the field and invites other cultural interventions.
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