Latinidad on Its Own Terms (Review of “Who tells a tale adds a tail…”)

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Denise Zubizarreta (Hyperallergic) reviews “Who Tells a Tale Adds a Tail: Latin America and Contemporary Art,” curated by Raphael Fonseca, on view through March 5, 2023, at the Denver Art Museum (located at 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver, Colorado). Artists include Hulda Guzmán (Dominican Republic) and Tessa Mars (Haiti). Zubizarreta writes, “Who tells a tale adds a tail: Latin America and contemporary art explores contemporary Latin American art without conforming to external expectations.”

The Brazilian proverb “Quem conta um conto, aumenta um ponto” translates to “who adds a tale, adds a point,” reminiscent of the telephone game many of us played as children. The game wasn’t just about a moment of play; it illustrated how quickly a message could be distorted from person to person. Who tells a tale adds a tail: Latin America and contemporary art on view at the Denver Art Museum, names and playfully explores this paradox and is the first major exhibition curated at the museum by inaugural Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art Raphael Fonseca, who currently resides in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

As we relay observations from one person to another, or one culture to another, the core understandings are often mangled, sometimes so much so that true meaning is completely lost. Though the game of telephone is a simplified way of understanding the complexities of sharing Latiné art, it examines the difficulties of when those artists explore diversity within their own stories and how they chose to visually depict their experiences. The exhibition is an exploration straight from the “horse’s mouth” without conforming to external expectations. With works by 20 artists from all over Latin America, the diaspora, and the Caribbean, the exhibition explores what Latinidad means in the context of global hegemony. [. . .]

Tessa Mars’s main body of work is centered on her alter ego, Tessalines, a hybrid character based on Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the leader of the Haitian revolution. Through Tessalines, Mars investigates gender, history, and traditions, and she challenges dominant narratives that seek to simplify and flatten the experience of people in the “margins.” “Travelling Root I & II” (2022) do not specifically showcase that the artist is from Haiti; she is not explicitly or didactically commenting on her culture. Instead, her acrylic works come across as unapologetic yet welcoming, with their warm palettes that ease the viewer in as they begin unfolding what may lie beneath the surface.  [. . .]

Though Who tells a tale adds a tail cannot bring forward the perfect idea of what Latin American or Caribbean art is, it dispels the fantasy that US society clings to, consumed by ideas of borders and the complex disarray of the imposition of these boundaries, whether because of nationality, religion, or sexuality. The exhibition explores fragments of Latin American and Caribbean arts’ richness and the possibilities it can bring to audiences, without resting on ethnographic interpretations which, in an attempt to homogenize the work into a singular “authentic” narrative, have been socially ingrained in the masses as fundamental to our visual culture. [. . .]

For full article, see

The exhibition:
“Who tells a tale adds a tail: Latin America and contemporary art”
Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver

For Tessa Mars, go to and

For Hulda Guzmán, go to and

[Shown above, Hulma Guzmán’s “wednesday morning,” 2019.]

Also see our previous posts to and

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