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A New Installation by Cecilia Vicuña
September 26-November 7, 1998
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, DiverseWorks ArtSpace (Houston), and Art in General (NYC) have jointly developed a touring solo exhibition of the work of internationally recognized Chilean visual artist and poet Cecilia Vicuna. Vicuna will exhibit pivotal historical works along with three installations designed specifically for the three organizations and their environments. Her exhibition in Buffalo will be accompanied by a reading sponsored by just buffalo literary center. This multi-state consortium project has received major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The exhibition as a whole takes a layered, archaeological approach to this artist and poet who weaves across barriers and between media, (particularly between visual art and language). Her work is a powerful fusion of a knowledge of a colonial Chilean and local Andean culture and the quest for a global avant-garde. As we approach the beginning of a new millennium, such union of seeming oppositions is an artistic pursuit, as well as an intercultural conversation that will have a profound impact on world culture and create new ways of engaging with knowledge. In one of her first spatial works titled El Khipu que no ne recuerda nada (The Khipu that Remembers Nothing, 1965) she outlined a bare thread around her own bedroom. A khipu is an Incan instrument consisting of knotted woolen cords that registered events and numerals. This form of recording was used to the first period of the conquista, replaced later by written systems. The entire khipu contains meaning: length, form color, number of knots, knots which were endlessly tied and retied, a means of inscribing that is never fixed. The act of doing and undoing offers many beginnings and endings, and many pathways in between. In a 1994 outdoor weaving, 12 hilos en un corral (The Corral Grid), a grid of string crosses a mestizo trapezoid-shaped corral, a space surrounded by an ancient wall that is regularly repaired with new stones as the old ones crumble. Works such as this establish a profound connection between processes of working the loom and working the earth, both providing necessities of life such as food and clothing. Words in the language of Quechua (spoken by 4 million people in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina) is telling of this connection. Pampa is both an agricultural plain and large single-color sections of textiles. Khata is both a furrowed field ready for planting as well as the warp ready to be worked upon. Weaving and agriculture are entwined in language. The warp and woofs are open, close to the ground, protective. The grid of thread mimics the archaeological method for site mapping. In Western culture, it is also a tool used since the Renaissance to master three dimensional space on a two-dimensional plane. In Andean and other ancient cultures, the grid is the fundamental structure upon which all architecture and weaving is based. 12 hilos en el corral suggests the overlay of modernism and Andean culture, in a new complex whole. In her projects for Art in General, DiverseWorks, and Hallwalls, Vicuna will create mappings that are particular to the cities and the spaces in which these organizations are located (a manufacturer of hardware, a cotton warehouse, a factory for Model-T Fords). Vicuna has been commissioned to create a new work which will be exhibited in conjunction with earlier works, creating a context for her current activity. Vicuna will participate in just buffalo literary center's education programming in the Buffalo public schools. She will return to Buffalo in early October to present a series of workshops. (Watch Hallwalls' October calendar for details.) Hallwalls, Art in General and DiverseWorks will collaborate with the artist on a post-exhibition publication documenting the entire three city project. The Buffalo presentation of Vicuna's work is co sponsored by just buffalo literary center and El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera. The exhibition is available for touring to other cities. Born in 1948 in Chile, Cecilia Vicuna is a visual artist, performance artist, and poet. Her work has been exhibited in Latin American Video at The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1981, The Decade Show at the New Museum in 1990, the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, N.M., the Royal Museum in Antwerp, the Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago, and the University Art Museum in Berkeley. Recent major exhibitions include INside the VISIBLE : An Elliptical Traverse of 20th Century Art: in, of, and from the Feminine (which traveled to the ICA, Boston, The National Museum of Women, and the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London) and the 1997 Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial. Currently an exhibition of her work is being circulated by the Kanaal Art Foundation, Belgium, which also co-published a book devoted to her work titled The Precarious, The Art and Poetry of Cecilia Vicuna, (Wesleyan University Press, l997). In 1996 she received the Pollock Krasner Award, and The Fund for Poetry Award. She is the author of many books, including Unraveling Words & TheWeaving of Water (Graywolf Press) and Word & Thread (Morning Star Publications). Her poems have been included in Poems for the Millennium Vol. II, (University of California Press) Veinticinco Anos de Poesia Chilena, (Fondo de Cultura Economica, Chile) and You Can't Drown the Fire, Latin American Women Writing in Exile, (Cleis Press). She reads and performs from her work extensively throughout Europe, North and South America. Vicuna lives and works in New York and Chile. Her work is accesible on the World Wide Web at the EPC.
-- from the Hallwall's web site.