ABSTRACT

This article proposes (post)socialism as a conceptual lens to read the temporal dislocation and affective currents that define Venezuela’s current political and social reality and its relationship to the twenty-first-century socialism former president Hugo Chávez promised in 2006. It argues that this version of socialism, which claimed to be different from the ones that came before in Latin America and elsewhere, was translated into the country’s urban landscape in a visual display that served to smooth over its contradictions and blind spots and that made Chávez essential to the discussions regarding what shape it could take in Venezuela. The connection between Chávez and socialism lingered after his death, leading to an explosion of visual representations of him that included the reproduction of his signature on the walls of the apartment buildings constructed by the housing program Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela. The article argues that, by creating the illusion that Chávez remains visible, present, and essential for the operations and conceptualization of the Revolution’s socialist agenda, the signature—and the other visual forms Chávez’s afterlife has publicly taken—reduces socialism to a crisis of imagination that prevents critical debates and the possibility of envisioning new political futures for the nation.

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