"Dreaming of Water", the retrospective exhibition of the Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña

January 25, 2024 | nadiaevangelina

"Dreaming of Water" is the retrospective of Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennial, held at Malba and organized in collaboration with the National Museum of Fine Arts of Santiago de Chile and the Pinacoteca de São Paulo. On display are some two hundred works, including installations, paintings, texts, silkscreen prints, collages, textiles, videos, photographs, book objects, and drawings that traverse her career.

This is the most complete exhibition dedicated to date to the poet, visual artist, and feminist activist. It offers a reading of Vicuña's work from the South of America. It reviews sixty years of her production, highlighting her links with her native Argentina, the Andes Mountains, pre-Columbian textile memory, feminist struggles, and eroticism, as well as the demands for self-determination of indigenous communities.

The name of the exhibition represents an invitation to change our relationship with the earth: "Without humidity, there is no humanity", in the artist's words. Vicuña's creations are not only testimonies of the past but above all witnesses of an open future, just as this retrospective presents her work as an experience that is not definitive, but alive and in process.


At the beginning of the tour is his early work that has never been shown before abstract paintings, a work dedicated to Salvador Allende, and erotic drawings. Everything is poetry, each painting has a typed page next to it where the artist explains its meaning. Flower power is condensed in the painting Janis Joe, 1971, collection of Eduardo Costantini: Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, naked women protesting, animality, Andean philosophy, blues, myths and folklore, the activist Angela Davis.

The site-specific installation Quipu menstrual (The Blood of the Glaciers), the only piece created especially for this exhibition, is presented in the museum's level -1 hall. It was conceived as a way of expressing support for Michelle Bachelet, Chile's first woman president. Four artists worked in dialogue with the artist and curator Verónica Rossi. The fleece hanging from the ceiling, on which images of native textiles are projected, still smells of sheep from three regions of the country, as Vicuña requested. The weavers, Guillermina Baiguera, Laura Morales, Adriana Pavic, and Ana Paula Méndez, kneaded it for two months in the museum.
Quipu menstrual

Political activism is a constant in her work. Vicuña was born into a family persecuted for its ideas; he is the third generation of exiles. As an example, there is the nucleus dedicated to Tribu No, a Santiago group of young artists and poets with whom he sought political freedom to create. The Palabrarmas are sculptural, performative, and spatial poems, word games that reveal meanings. The Precarios are another constant in his trajectory: small assemblages made of wood, pebbles, feathers, or treasures washed up by the sea or the river, offerings or refuge for microscopic life. Vicuña calls them "ritual performances", "spatial metaphors" and "multidimensional poems".

"Dreaming Water" updates Vicuña's commitment to popular struggles, respect for human rights, and the importance of opposing devastation in a broad sense.


"Dreaming of Water"
Location: Malba, Junín 1930, Av. Pres. Figueroa Alcorta 3415, C1425CLA CABA, Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Opening Date: 8th December 2023
End Date:26th February 2024
Working hours: Wednesday-Monday: 12pm to 8pm

Official website: 
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