Friday, October 8, 2010

Art on Edge: The Precarious

Images from top: Quipu from the collection of the Museum of World Culture, Gothenburg, Sweden,
Cecilia Vicuña's Poncho of Five Strands 1992 and Quipu 1991.

I've been searching for contemporary Latin American artists working with textiles. Specifically I am interested in artists and makers drawing upon their experience of exile, migration and culturally diverse heritage, who consciously take up inherited craft traditions in their practice as a form of exploring identity and challenging notions of the ‘other’.

I am currently very interested in Cecilia Vicuña's art practice. Vicuña was born in Chile and has been living in exile since the 1970s. She has lived and worked in London, Colombia and is now based out of New York. Interestingly her practice is as much about writing, specifically poetry as it is about making. I am particularly drawn to the works in which she references the Inca use of Quipu. Quipu were used by the Inca as a form of communication to record information and relay messages. Quipu are predominantly made from cotton string including a primary cord and subsidiary cords which have been knotted at particular intervals. To this day, researchers are trying to decipher the Quipu code (see The Quipu Project).

I'm fascinated by the practice of knotting, weaving, looping, coiling and binding with fibre and textiles as a way of embedding or coding narrative.

If you are interested in Cecilia Vicuña, there is a fantastic book on her practice The Precarious: The Art and Poetry of Cecilia Vicuña edited by Catherine de Zegher, there is a preview version on amazon here. Vicuña also has a great website here