Sofía Montenegro: Mimetic Boundaries Between Fiction and Reality: Linguistic and Visual Transactions Around Colonial Heritage


Advisor/tutor: Rachel O’Reilly

Arnhem, January 2020


In 2015, the Government of Colombia announced the discovery of the Galleon of San José, which was sunk three hundred years ago while carrying a colonial treasure from Colombia to Spain. This thesis looks at how the search for this treasure was narrated, historically, politically and in literature, in order to unveil why fiction and reality mimic one another within visual and linguistic transactions of colonial heritage. The treasure’s ecosystem serves as a case study to analyse how cultural and value exchange happens through the blurring of such boundaries. It uses theories from the fields of cultural anthropology, museum and postcolonial studies, sociology and economy material studies and Marxist theory, including Magical Marxism. Field research was also conducted in Colombia in 2017, supported by an artist residency in Lugar a Dudas in Cali, and a travelling grant from the Council of Madrid. Lastly, this thesis aims to identify how cultural institutions and governmental entities speculate with treasures by using fiction to construct reality through speculative realism, linguistic mimesis and image economy.