‘We can wake up if we wish’: Autumn Royal Interviews Cecilia Vicuña

1 May 2017

AR: I guess this relates to the empowerment of your precarios. You create these artworks distinctively for their social and ecological engagement, yet the inevitable decay of your precarious allows a resistance to the commodification of art because they’re completed by the elements.

CV: That has been the stronger and most fertile ground for my work precisely because it incorporated its own dissolution from the start, from the very first day. I understood that dissolution was a form of regenerating the life force of the sea, because my work began at the edge of the sea. I began to do these works in 1966 at a place called Concón, an ancient, sacred place with 10,000 years of culture already destroyed by the construction of an oil refinery built on top of a cemetery of our ancestors. Even in the ’60s, the ecological disasters had begun, and I think by focusing on dissolution and regeneration of the lifeforce, I was instinctively responding to that pain, the pain of the ocean, the pain of the sand. I walked on this beach as a kid and the sole of my feet would get black from oil, everything was already blackened. That was 50 years ago. We have lived with this denial and destruction for 50 years, and when you think of the damage that those 50 years have done, if there’s a future for humanity, those 50 years are going to be known as one of the most criminal.

AR: I wanted to know about your ‘Quasars’. In Rosa Alcalá’s documentation of your work, Spit Temple, there is an archive of your poetry and performances that present the ideas about light and sound and as forces even though they are quasi forms. Did you name your performances ‘Quasars’ because of the celestial associations?

CV: Yes, of course. The quasar is the most powerful source of energy in the cosmos as far as we know and they are ‘not yet’, they are quasi. I think we are the same. If you tried to describe what my performances are like you would have a lot of trouble. If you were to try and document it, it’s never like being there, because when you are there it’s the total experience of every feeling. The audience becomes completely alive, they cease to be passive. I begin from the floor, from the ground up – in the way like the swell could come up in a geyser, and I am compelled to do it by poetry itself. It’s like poetry is emerging at that very moment, and that is what we are all experiencing in that moment, everybody can sense it. And what I’m reading, I’m not really reading. I read partially, I read one word or the other, but there are many other things that emerge in that moment of creation.

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