Songs to the Waters
Songs to the Waters
Cecilia Vicuña is a visual artist, poet and activist whose art inseparably links poetry and political resistance. Since the 1960s, Vicuña has been working on ecological questions, human rights and social injustices. Following the Chilean coup in 1973, Vicuña left Santiago to go into exile in London and then moved to New York in 1980.
The exhibition centers on Vicuña’s documentary film Kon Kon (2010), which discusses the privatization of waterways, the destruction of natural resources as well as the breakdown of the human-nature relationship. Combining poetry and documentary, the film weaves around the Aconcagua river, which runs from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean near the city of Concón in Chile. Vicuña's artistic work began by this river in the 1960s.
In Chile, natural waterways have been privatized, which has caused serious consequences for both the indigenous peoples and the river valley environment. Kon Kon is a poem about the vanishing of a beloved river. In addition to the river, the culture and practices of the indigenous peoples have also disappeared in the area. The sacred circulation of water from glacier to river, ocean and clouds is disrupted when companies pump the water high up in the mountains before it reaches the valley below. Rivers dry up or companies fill them with toxic water, destroying the flora, fauna and culture of the river valleys.
The other piece in the exhibition, Cantos del Agua (2015) is a documentation of a collective performance. Vicuña invited female sound artists to improvise a water song with her. The aim was that the song would reach both decision-makers and the waters.
The creation of sensuous, sensitive and spiritual connections with other beings is emblematic of Vicuña's artistic process. Her pieces about oceans and rivers often seek to revive something lost and forgotten, approaching ancient traditions and reinforcing erased cultural memory.
The exhibition is curated by Elina Suoyrjö.
Cecilia Vicuña (b. 1948) is a poet, artist, film maker and activist who lives and works between New York and Chile. She has published 22 poetry and art books. Vicuña’s work has been exhibited widely and internationally in museums, biennials and galleries.