El Dorado: Myths of Gold

  • Sep 6, 2023May 18, 2024
  • New York, NY


Huevos de oro (Golden Eggs) by Priscilla Monge, 1998. Courtesy of Hutchinson Modern & Contemporary.

This exhibition at the Americas Society is the first of a two-part group exhibition exploring the legend of El Dorado as a foundational myth of the Americas. It presents artworks by more than sixty artists from the pre-Hispanic period to the contemporary era.

The objects in this exhibition aim to challenge, reinforce, and question the continuity and effects of the myth in the Americas into the present. El Dorado is a tale of searches and quests, delirium, and violence.

During the colonization of the Americas, rumors of an Indigenous kingdom replete with gold and precious stones quickly permeated the European imagination, galvanizing the invasion of the continent without regard for Indigenous lives, ancestral territories, or environmental concerns. Despite never being found, the mythical El Dorado functioned as a foundational ethos for the colonization of the Americas that persists until today. The city of gold has transformed into more intangible, though equally powerful, personal and collective values –such as individualism, greed, and consumerism– that are central to contemporary capitalist societies.

As we grapple with the enormous long-term sociopolitical and environmental effects of this operating dynamic, there is a pressing need to reevaluate its influence on our identification as human beings and members of a globalized society. Presenting artworks from the precolonial period to today, this exhibition complicates and reevaluates the idea of El Dorado, employing the myth as a framework for understanding the Americas. By placing historical and contemporary artworks together, the exhibition facilitates dialogues between past and present to investigate how the myth has shaped the value of gold, as well as that of territories, peoples, religious beliefs, and nature.

Part I of the exhibition will be on display from September 6 through December 16, 2023. Part II will take place from January 24 through May 18, 2024. El Dorado: Myths of Gold is curated by Aimé Iglesias Lukin, Tie Jojima, and Edward J. Sullivan.

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Free. Open Wednesdays through Saturdays. No appointment necessary. Masks are encouraged.