Victoria Vargas-Downing.


I come from the Atacama Desert in Chile, the driest place on the earth, there, I grew up finding arrowheads on the coast and seeing ancient indigenous abstractions drawn in the mountains, in these manifestations I appreciated art and heritage as a constant in my life. As I saw it in the desert, I studied it in books and museums, while my experiences have led me to work in galleries, art fairs, non-profit art foundations and with international contemporary art agents in Chile, Brazil, United Kingdom, Austria, California in the United States and Serbia,  in each experience, I have seen the relationship between art and heritage rising in different ways, senses and forms. I hold a BA in Fine Arts, with a major in Theory and History of Art from the University of Chile(Max. Distinction), a Curating diploma from Adolfo Ibañez University, and an MA in Arts Management and Heritage Studies (Distinction) from the University of Leeds.



Curatorial residencies

  • What Could/Should Curating Do?, Belgrade, Serbia 2019
  • Emergent Curators Retreat, Otis College of Art & Design, Los Angeles California, US. 2018
  • Curator's Agenda 2017, Block Frei, Vienna, Austria, 2017
  • Habeas Data III, Curatoria Forense, Sao Paulo, Brazil 2016

Scholarships and Fellowships

  • AHC Faculty Research Dissemination Award 2021/22 Round 5
  • Chilean National Scholarship Program for PhD in a foreign country, 2018
  • Otis Summer Residencies and Programs Fellowship, 2018

Conferences and Workshops

  • ACHS Biannual conference, Interculturalities Santiago December 2022 
    • Round Table:10 Years On: Past, Present and Future of (A)CHS; Laurajane Smith, Lucie Morisset, John Giblin,  Victoria Vargas Downing; Moderated by Trinidad Rico
    • Round Table: Descolonizando el Patrimonio a través del arte contemporáneo. Charla con Patricia Domínguez, Nicolás Grum y Natalia Montoya; Organised and moderated by Victoria Vargas Downing
    • Individual presentation: Pulling Threads, the Mutual Constitutionality of Contemporary Art and Heritage: a decolonial approach
  • Borderlands Symposium, University of Leeds, UK. June 9th - 10th, 2022.
  • Working disobedience international encounter by Latin Elephant, Tate Exchange and Gasworks, London February 23rd, 2022
  • Decolonisation & New Museum Paradigm, by Postcolonial Heritage Research Group, University of Hull, Virtual. October 14th - 15th, 2021.
  • New themes and ideas in Studies of Iberian And Latin American Art, History by Durham University, Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art & Edinburgh College of Art, Virtual. July 5th - 6th , 2021.
  • ‘I, We, They, The other: deconstructing identity in Latin America’ Postgraduates in Latin American studies PILAS conference 2021, Virtual. July 1st - 2nd , 2021
  • A Window Onto Latin America III Conference: Glocal reactions and responses, University of York, Virtual. June 7th - 9th 2021
  • Coordination of Spring Symposium, Heritage Justice By the Early Career Researchers of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies, UK, Virtual. April 23th, 29th & 30th, May 7th, 13th & 14th 2021.
  • Association of Critical Heritage Studies: Futures Biannual conference, ACHS Virtual. August 26th-30th, 2020
  • A Window onto Latin America: A 21st Century Resignification of the Never-ending Conquest” University of York, York, UK. November 8th, 2019
  • New Voices in Postcolonial Studies: Interdisciplinary Imaginations, Critical Confrontations, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK. October 30th 2019
  • Latin American Art and Cultural Research Symposium in the UK: Art + Identity, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. June 1st 2019
  • 1st International Workshop on Contested Territories, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK. May 20th & 21st, 2019


Upcoming Publications

  • ‘Pulling threads: Decolonising Heritage through contemporary art’. in Prácticas desobedientes/Working disobedience encounter, Gasworks London, Latin Elephant and Tate Exchange.(2023)


Research interests

In a text about Latin American poetry, the poet and artist Cecilia Vicuña compare a constellation in terms of Western and Andes culture. In the West, a constellation is constructed from star to star. While in the Andes, a dark constellation is the negative space between stars. My research is based on that negative space of creation & interaction between Contemporary Art and Heritage. I'm interested in how arts and cultural backgrounds have an influence on what is perceived as ‘heritage’ and how the re-creation of some ‘heritage practices’ in contemporary arts can work as a tool and an activation strategy for its re-interpretation and integration, and beyond that, as a tool to allow healing. In my research, I challenge the ontological assumptions of art and heritage to see how these two fields interact in a mutual constituency and reciprocal relationship. I challenge and present alternatives to logics of accumulation, extraction, temporality and materiality to unvail other ways of relating and interacting with heritage, art and the world.  My main focus is  Latin American contemporary Art production, but I am also interested in alternative forms of interpretation of art and heritage.

 I'm also interested in finding new forms of academic research that can unsettle and disrupt colonial forms reproduced by traditional academic formats. My work is highly influenced by decolonial thought from Abya Yala, Feminist approaches and my own experience from an autoethnographic perspective. Currently, I’m part of the Organising Committee of Conferencia Ventana and the Coordinating team of the Early Career Network of the Association of Critical Heritage studies.


  • BA Fine arts,with major in Theory and History of Art, Universidad de Chile, Chile
  • Curating Diploma, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile
  • MA Arts Management and Heritage Studies, University of Leeds, UK