By María Galarza | May 15, 2023

Fundación PROA presented a reflection on the myth of "El Dorado" in the American continent, with a selection of works by artists from different countries and times to rethink the impact and meaning of one of the most influential legends in history.


"El Dorado" is a myth based on a European belief about the existence of a lost city of gold in America. A driving force for the conquistadors to brutally make their way through a continent they did not know.


The exhibition immerses the visitor in a game of expectations and reality, around the fantasy of the treasure of Latin America and its subsequent exploitation. It addresses the emergence of Latin American identity, revealing the complexity of the cultural legacy on our continent.


From the beginning, the fantasy of the treasure is meticulously constructed, arousing palpable expectation in the first room of the exhibition. However, to enter into the essence of "El Dorado", it is necessary to pull back the curtain and cross the threshold to face reality.


"El Dorado", represented in various works of art, functions as a symbolic prism that invites us to nuance its meaning. It reveals itself in multiple facets, practices and representations, where each work reflects a materialization of that fantasy. There is no version identical to the other and the richness associated with gold differs in each representation.


Through the legend of "El Dorado", the exhibition shows how ideas of treasure, wealth and abundance have been shaped over time in the region. "El Dorado" becomes a vehicle that drives the formation of diverse and changing conceptions in our culture. It invites us to reflect on how these notions influenced our worldview and the construction of the supposed value of the Americas.

In addition, El Dorado is presented as a symbol of transcendence, a concept that is pursued but never achieved. It is revealed as a chimera, a constant search that we try to reach through different representations.


But like any dream that confronts reality, the legend was not entirely true: there was no city of gold, but a continent with a lot of wealth that brought, in turn, a lot of complexity. Wealth can be corn or food; wealth can bring conflicts of equality; wealth is the culture of the continent with its own crafts and tools; wealth can be found in the jungle; wealth, perhaps, was paid for at too high a cost. Each artist manifested their own understanding to confront the legend and take control over the power of the Latin American continent.


The final message is not clear: Was gold a condemnation and then a possibility? Or the American continent continues to suffer from the severe exploitation of its valuable resources? It is unknown what the artists are trying to do by representing the value of the land, and the impact their history has on their creations. Perhaps it is a quest, perhaps it is a way to gain a voice over the territory.

El dorado. A territory. Group exhibition.


Until August 8, 2023.


PROA Foundation. Av. Don Pedro de Mendoza 1929, city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.