Kukuli Velarde’s Plunder Me, Baby

Reviewed by Christopher Michno

Plunder Me, Baby—sounds like an invitation, but an invitation to what? There’s irony aplenty in that title and it leaves a sickening aftertaste, as it’s meant. Kukuli Velarde’s trenchant and caustically humorous ceramic sculptures fix within their sights the conquest—both cultural and corporeal—of Latin America. This widely exhibited series, now in a PST: LA/LA exhibition at the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA), is fashioned after traditional pre-Columbian ceramic objects, but Velarde, who brings a distinctive lens to themes of identity and cultural appropriation, creates each object as a kind of self portrait. Each sculpture bears her visage and expresses a reaction to the realities of conquest: defiance, anger, mockery, subversion, and the like.

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