How to Build Cathedrals | Cildo Meireles | 1987
From the Blanton Museum of Art:
Cildo Meireles has gained an international reputation for his effective combination of Conceptual art with explicit social and political critiques. In Missão/Missões he makes reference to the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Jesuit missions in southern Brazil, Paraguay, and northern Argentina. The missions were established as communities to convert the indigenous Tupi-Guaraní people to Catholicism, and many of the Jesuit and Franciscan churches remain among the jewels of Latin American Baroque architecture. Meireles's evocative contemporary "cathedral" exposes the hidden agenda behind these missions, highlighting in particular the relationship between wealth (600,000 coins on the ground), agricultural exploitation (200 suspended cattle bones), and religion (a column of communion wafers connecting the "land" and the "heavens"). The installation draws attention to the fact that the conquest of the Americas was as much about economics as it was about religion or saving souls.