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Cecilia Vicuña: Quipu desaparecido (Disappeared Quipu)

DATES May 18 through November 25, 2018
  • Types of Knots and Their Numeric values | Tipos de nudos y sus valores numéricos
    Figure-eight knots denote one.
    ___________

    Los nudos con forma de 8 denotan uno.


    Long knots denote the units two through nine, depending on the number of turns of the string within the body of the knot.
    ___________

    Los nudos largos denotan las unidades del dos al nueve, dependiendo del número de vueltas de la cuerda en el cuerpo del nudo.


    Single knots denote whole decimal values, such as tens, hundreds, and thousands.
    ___________

    Los nudos individuales denotan valores decimales enteros, como decenas, centenas y millares.


    Diagrams by Julia Meyerson, in Gary Urton, Signs of the Inka: Binary Coding in the Andean Knotted-String Records (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003), p. 77.
  • Cord Construction | Construcción de cuerdas
    Scholars studying textiles use the letters S and Z to denote the direction of twist in a cord. Spinning to the right (clockwise) is identified with an S, and spinning to the left (counterclockwise) is identified with a Z. All cords are either S-spun and Z-plied, or Z-spun and S-plied, to keep them from unravelling.
    ___________

    Los estudiosos de los textiles utilizan las letras S y Z para denotar la orientación o el giro en una cuerda. Hilar hacia la derecha (en el sentido de las agujas del reloj) se identifica con una S, e hilar hacia la izquieda (en contra del sentido de las agujas del reloj) se identifica con una Z. Todas las cuerdas son hiladas en S y cruzadas en Z, o hiladas en Z y cruzadas en S, para evitar que se deshagan.
  • Quipu desaparecido (Disappeared Quipu) (English)
    Quipu desaparecido is a multisensory memorial to ancient people, and to their ways of life, which the Spanish attempted to eradicate during colonial times. Textiles are integral to the daily activities and the spirituality of Andean cultures, conveying—through systems of weaving and the knot-making language of their quipus—an understanding of the sacred threads that interconnected all beings in the cosmos.

    This newly commissioned installation features projected images of textiles that Vicuña chose from the world-renowned ancient Andean collections of the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. For Vicuña, these ghostly renderings of weavings stand in for the bodies of the indigenous people who used them. A recording of the artist’s chants combines with these abstracted renderings of ancient fabrics, evoking a chorus of voices communicating across generations.

    The installation’s Spanish title, Quipu desaparecido, alludes to the legacy of politically motivated kidnappings and murders perpetuated by a number of twentieth-century Latin American dictatorships. Missing victims of repressive regimes were called los desaparecidos—the disappeared. In adopting that name for this project, Vicuña makes a direct connection to the erasure of the quipu by the Spanish conquerors, who set out to extinguish this highly coded and therefore, to them, subversive method of communication in the sixteenth century. While the tradition of the quipu partially continues in some Andean communities today, the complex original language remains lost, and scholars are still actively engaged in researching and deciphering its ways of conveying knowledge and history.

    Disappeared Quipu is part of a decades-long project in which Vicuña is seeding the future for the rebirth of a social art. This project includes activations by the artist, in which she moves, alone or with others, among the fibers and knotted strands of the work.
  • Artist Statement | Texto de la artista
    My art began by disappearing.
    I made an offering for the sea to erase.
    The waves weave our breath, in, out.
    Dissolving gives life to what comes next.

    My quipus are impossible weavings.
    Not spun, not plied. They simply hang.
    Their knots are loose and about to fall off.
    Nothing holds them together, except desire.

    Quipus are a metaphor for the union of all.

    They were forbidden in 1583, yet they went on
    undercover, still weaving our breath.

    My first quipu was The quipu that remembers nothing.

    I was offering my desire for memory.

    —Cecilia Vicuña

    ___________


    Mi arte comenzó al desaparecer.
    Hice una ofrenda para que la mar la borrara.
    Las olas tejen nuestro aliento, van y vienen.
    Al deshacerse le dan vida a lo que viene.

    Mis quipus son tejidos imposibles.
    No son hilados ni torcidos, simplemente cuelgan.
    Los nudos están sueltos, al borde de caer.
    Nada los sostiene, excepto el deseo.

    Un quipu es una metáfora de la unión.

    Fueron prohibidos en l583
    y sin embargo continuaron tejiendo
    subterráneamente nuestro aliento.

    Mi primera obra fue El quipu que no recuerda nada.

    Ofrendaba mi deseo de recordar.

    —Cecilia Vicuña
  • About the Artist | Acerca de la artista
    Cecilia Vicuña (born Chile, 1948) is a visual artist, poet, filmmaker, and activist who lives in New York. After receiving her Master of Fine Arts degree from the National School of Fine Arts, University of Chile, in 1972, she moved to London to continue her studies. Following the violent military coup in Chile against President Salvador Allende in 1973, she co-founded the artist-activist movement Artists for Democracy. During the ensuing repressive dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973–90), Vicuña remained in exile, leaving London for Bogotá, Colombia, in 1975 before settling in New York City in 1980.

    While living in Chile during the mid-1960s, Vicuña began an ongoing series of small sculptures called Precarios, tiny, fragile sculptures (composed of feathers, stone, plastic, wood, wire, shells, cloth, and other detritus), initially created at the seashore, to disappear with the high tide. Also at this time, she began to study the history of ancient quipus, and in the early 1970s began to craft her own quipus from unspun wool. Her ephemeral, site-specific installations combine the tactile ritual of weaving and spinning with the arts of assemblage, poetry, and performance. Vicuña radically transforms the concept of the quipu through both her poetry and visual arts—placing it within a newly imagined social context of female empowerment and cultural resurrection.

    ___________


    Cecilia Vicuña (Chilena, nacida en 1948) es una artista visual, poeta, cineasta y activista que vive en Nueva York. Luego de obtener su grado de Maestría en Bellas Artes de la Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Universidad de Chile, en 1972, se muda a Londres para continuar sus estudios. Tras el violento golpe militar en Chile contra el presidente Salvador Allende en 1973, co-funda el movimiento de arte y activismo Artistas por la Democracia. Durante la subsiguiente dictadura represiva de Augusto Pinochet (1973–90), Vicuña permanence en el exilio, mudándose de Londres a Bogotá, Colombia, en 1975, antes de radicarse en la ciudad de Nueva York en 1980.

    Mientras vivió en Chile a mediados de los años sesenta, Vicuña comenzó una serie continuada de pequeñas esculturas llamada Precarios, pequeñas y frágiles esculturas (hechas de plumas, piedras, plástico, madera, alambre, conchas, tela y otros desechos), incialmente creadas a la orilla del mar, para que desaparecieran con la marea alta. También en esta época, comenzó a estudiar la historia del quipu antiguo, y a prinicipios de los años setenta empezó a elaborar sus propios quipus con lana sin hilar. Sus instalaciones efímeras para lugares concretos, combinan el ritual táctil de tejer e hilar, con los artes del assemblage, la poesía y la performance. Vicuña transforma radicalmente el concepto del quipu tanto a través de su poesía como de sus artes visuales, ubicándolo, en un reimaginado contexto social de empoderamiento femenino y resurrección cultural.
  • Cecilia Vicuña Selects: Ancient Andean Textiles from the Collection | Cecilia Vicuña selecciona: antiguos textiles andinos de la colección
    These ancient Andean garments are among the textiles selected by the artist Cecilia Vicuña for the video projection in her Disappeared Quipu (Quipu desaparecido), shown in the adjacent gallery. Vicuña has always had an affinity for the Brooklyn Museum’s collection; for example, in 1982 she produced a stop-motion animated film, titled Paracas, about the Museum’s famous Paracas Textile (100–300).

    These textiles illustrate the great weaving traditions of the Nasca (100–600), Wari (600–1000), Chimú (1100–1400), and Inca (1400–1532) cultures. Highly skilled weavers used cotton fibers and the silken hair of alpacas and vicuñas to make functional yet stunning fabrics, and developed complex weaving techniques to produce culturally distinctive designs. Vibrant colors attest to the weavers’ skill at extracting natural dyes from plants, minerals, shells, and the cochineal beetle.

    The garments span more than fourteen hundred years, and their remarkable preservation is likely due to interment in burials in the coastal deserts of Peru and northern Chile. The textiles express complex social, environmental, and ideological concepts; images of animals and supernatural beings, for instance, provide insights into the Andean natural world and the religious beliefs of its inhabitants. Like the Inca quipus in the adjacent gallery, these textiles are a way of recording and conveying information, especially useful since ancient Andean peoples did not have a formal writing system. These works complement Vicuña’s installation by connecting the past to the present and honoring an important indigenous artistic tradition.

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    Estas antiguas prendas de vestir andinas son parte de la selección que hizo la artista Cecilia Vicuña para la proyección de vídeo en su Quipu desaparecido, en exhibición en la sala contigua. Vicuña siempre ha sentido afinidad con la colección del Museo de Brooklyn; por ejemplo, en 1982 produjo el filme de animación en stop-motion titulado Paracas, acerca del famoso Tejido de Paracas (100–300) del museo.

    Estos textiles ilustran las grandes tradiciones textiles de las culturas Nasca (100–600), Wari (600–1000), Chimú (1100–1400) e Inca (1400–1532). Tejedores altamente cualificados utilizaron fibras de algodón y pelo de alpacas y vicuñas para crear impresionantes telas, y desarrollar complejas técnicas de tejido para producir diseños culturales distintivos. Los colores vibrantes dan fe de la destreza de los tejedores a la hora de extraer tintes naturales de plantas, minerales, conchas y escarabajos cochinilla.

    Las prendas de vestir cubren un período de sobre mil cuatrocientos años, y su notable estado de preservación se debe probablemente al enterramiento en sepulturas en los desiertos de la costa del Perú y el norte de Chile. Los textiles expresan complejos conceptos sociológicos, ambientales e ideológicos; imágenes de animales y seres sobrenaturales, por ejemplo, nos proveen perspectivas sobre el mundo natural andino y las creencias religiosas de sus habitantes. Como los quipus inca en la sala contigua, estos textiles son un modo de registrar y transmitir información particularmente útil, dado que los antiguos pueblos andinos no tenían un sistema de escritura formal. Estas obras complementan la instalación de Vicuña al establecer un vínculo entre el presente y el pasado honrando una importante tradición artística indígena.
  • New Scientific Research | Nueva investigación científica
    New research involving dye analysis was recently conducted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Scientific Research, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum’s Conservation Laboratory. Scientific analysis confirmed the dyes used by Nasca weavers almost two thousand years ago, revealing a sophisticated knowledge of plants and the minerals used to fix the dyes to the fibers.

    The analysis, using HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography), revealed that the fifteen distinct colors visible on the Nasca panel were produced using only three plant dyes, either by themselves or in combination: relbunium (red), indigo (blue), and luteolin (yellow). Additional analysis with SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) identified the chemicals used to fix the dyes. The mineral aluminum turned out to be the predominant fixative.

    HPLC analysis also showed that the purple color of the short, looped fringes along the edges of the poncho combined indigo and red from the cochineal beetle—demonstrating the early use of, and possible experimentation with, cochineal as a dye, since relbunium is the main red pigment on the textile.

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    Recientemente, el Departamento de investigación del Museo Metropolitano de Arte -con apoyo financiero de la Fundación Andrew W. Mellon y en colaboración con el Laboratorio de Conservación del Museo de Brooklyn - llevó a cabo una nueva investigación científica que analizó los tintes. El análisis científico confirmó cuáles son los tintes que usaban los tejedores de Nasca hace dos mil años, y reveló un sofisticado conocimiento de las plantas y los minerales utilizados para adherir los tintes a las fibras.

    El análisis con cromatografía líquida de alta eficacia (HPLC, por sus siglas en inglés), reveló que los quince colores diferenciables visibles en el panel de Nasca, fueron producidos utilizando solo tres tintes de plantas, solas o combinadas: relbunium (rojo), indigo (azul) y luteolin (amarillo). Un análisis adicional con microscopio electrónico de barrido (SEM, por sus siglas en inglés) identificó los químicos usados para adherir los tintes. El mineral aluminio resultó ser el adhesivo predominante.

    El análsis con HPLC también demostró que el color púrpura de las borlas cortas enlazadas a lo largo de los bordes del poncho, combinan el indigo y el rojo del escarabajo cochinilla, lo cual comprueba el uso temprano y la posible experimentación con la cochinilla como tinte, dado que el relbunium es el pigmento rojo principal del tejido.
  • May 1, 2018 On view at the Brooklyn Museum, May 18–November 25, 2018

    The Brooklyn Museum is thrilled to announce Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu, a major immersive installation that combines enormous strands of knotted wool with video to honor an ancient Andean tradition. Cecilia Vicuña’s monumental work—measuring more than 24 feet high—offers a contemporary activation and reimagining of quipus, complex record-keeping devices created by the ancient peoples of the Andes for millennia. The exhibition is presented by the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist art and located in the Museum’s Great Hall.

    In a career spanning five decades, the artist, poet, and filmmaker Cecilia Vicuña has transformed the rich cultural legacies of the Andean region, reimagining the historical within her contemporary practice. With feminism as a unifying theme she explores the shifting nature of language and memory; the resilience of native people in the face of repression; and her own experiences, living in exile from her native Chile, following the military coup of 1973.

    A collaboration between the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu encompasses two site-specific installations—one in Brooklyn, the second in Boston. These raw-wool sculptures with video projections will each be exhibited with historical quipus. Quipus served as an essential medium for reading and writing, registering and remembering, through a system of knot-making, and were banned by the Spanish during their colonization of South America. Disappeared Quipu is part of Vicuña’s decades-long exploration of the quipu, which has often included ritual activations by the artist, in which she moves, alone or with others, among the fibers and knotted strands of the work, linking movement, sound, and material to enact a physical relationship with the cultural legacy embodied by the quipu. Vicuña’s radical transformation of the quipu through both her poetry and visual art places it within a newly imagined social context of female empowerment and calls attention to the disappearance of knowledge through the loss of a complex, ancient textile tradition.

    As Cecilia Vicuña poetically says: “The quipu is a metaphor for the union of all. A cosmic umbilical cord connecting us to each other and the galaxies where life is born.”

    Vicuña’s piece for the Brooklyn Museum and four quipus from the Brooklyn Museum collection will be on view from May 18 through November 25, 2018, while a corresponding installation will be on view at the MFA from October 20, 2018, through January 21, 2019. As conceived by the artist, this dual presentation reflects the Andean worldview that pairs of complementary opposites—night and day, death and life—keep the universe in balance.

    The Brooklyn Museum presentation of related textiles will provide a reference point for Vicuña’s contemporary reimagining of the quipu and highlight the Museum’s exceptional Andean collection. These textiles include a Nasca poncho (34.1579) that illustrates the discontinuous warp and weft technique (one of the most complicated weaving techniques in the world); Wari tunics; and various Inca garments, both full-size and miniature. Images of twelve of these textiles will be featured in the four-channel video component of Disappeared Quipu, which Vicuña is creating for projection onto her quipu sculpture.

    Over the course of the exhibition in both venues, Vicuña will participate in programs, including a participatory public performance that will incorporate poetry and song, creating a living, visual, and spatial poem. Additional works by Cecilia Vicuña are currently on view in the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 on the 4th Floor through July 22, 2018.

    Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu is organized by the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Brooklyn presentation is initiated by the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and is organized by Catherine Morris, Sackler Senior Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and Nancy Rosoff, Andrew W. Mellon Senior Curator, Arts of the Americas, with Serda Yalkin, Curatorial Assistant, Arts of the Americas and Europe. The MFA presentation is organized by Liz Munsell, Lorraine and Alan Bressler Curator of Contemporary Art, and Dennis Carr, Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture. Gary Urton, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre?Columbian Studies at Harvard University, is a collaborative consultant to the project. Robert Kolodny and Ricardo Gallo respectively, created the video projection and sound design of the work.

    Leadership support is provided by Elizabeth A. Sackler. Generous support is provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and the Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation.

    About Cecilia Vicuña
    Cecilia Vicuña (born Chile, 1948) is a visual artist, poet, filmmaker, and activist who lives in New York. After receiving her Master of Fine Arts degree from the National School of Fine Arts, University of Chile, in 1972, she moved to London to continue her studies. Following the violent military coup in Chile against President Salvador Allende in 1973, she co-founded the activist movement Artists for Democracy. During the ensuing repressive dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973–90), Vicuña remained in exile, leaving London for Bogotá, Colombia, in 1975 before settling in New York City in 1980. While living in Chile during the mid-1960s, Vicuña began an ongoing series of small sculptures called Precarios, tiny, fragile sculptures (composed of feathers, stone, plastic, wood, wire, shells, cloth, and other detritus), initially created at the seashore, to disappear with the high tide. She also began to study the history of ancient quipus, and in the early 1970s began to craft her own quipus from unspun wool. Her ephemeral, site-specific installations combine the tactile ritual of weaving and spinning with the arts of assemblage, poetry, and performance.

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