Luis Camnitzer

Lives and works in
(b. 1937 in Lübeck, Germany; lives in New York, U.S.A.)

Luis Camnitzer mines the archive of historical texts and images associated with the fraught enterprise of building the Panama Canal. The canal’s construction had serious implications for the geopolitical reconfiguration of the region—including Ferdinand de Lesseps’s failed attempt to build a canal, and the U.S. intervention that forced Colombia to surrender the isthmus, and the subsequent creation of the Republic of Panama.  The perpetuation of colonial constructions of race and class can be read in Camnitzer’s layered account, which ranges from the discovery of the isthmus by Vasco Núñez de Balboa to biased ethnographic observations on the Indigenous population and the workers brought from Jamaica and other islands in the Caribbean.