"Cecilia Vicuña: Spin Spin Triangulene" on view at the Guggenheim

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"Cecilia Vicuña: Spin Spin Triangulene" on view at the Guggenheim
Cecilia Vicuña, Autobiografía (Autobiography), 1971. Oil on canvas, 23 1/2 × 25 1/4 in. (59.7 × 64.1 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Museum purchase, Elizabeth W. Russell Foundation Fund, 2019. Photo: Matthew Herrmann, courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London. © Cecilia Vicuña.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents an exhibition devoted to Chilean artist, poet, activist, and filmmaker Cecilia Vicuña (b. 1948, Santiago), who has been based in New York for the last forty years. Showcasing Vicuña’s artistic production from the late 1960s to today, this focused exhibition features new works specifically for this show and the breadth of her multidisciplinary practice, including paintings, works on paper, textiles, films, a site-specific Quipu (Knot) installation, and Ex-termination Living Quipu, a one-time performance in the museum’s rotunda commissioned by the Guggenheim’s Latin American Circle.

The title of Vicuña’s show, Spin Spin Triangulene, is a poetic creation based on new scientific discoveries the artist relates to the Guggenheim’s spiral rotunda and the quipu, to stress the connection between science and Indigenous knowledge Vicuña has observed since her early encounter with cybernetics as a young student in Chile. Long anticipated, this is the first solo exhibition of Vicuña’s work in a New York museum and brings renewed and overdue national and international attention to a pioneering contemporary Latin American artist.

Vicuña explores themes of memory, language, science, and Indigenous spirituality and knowledge across her practice. Her early figurative paintings in this exhibition were conceived as a decolonizing act to subvert the oil tradition imposed on Indigenous culture by the European conquest. These works interweave her biography with the story of the rise of socialism. Following the 1973 Chilean military coup that ushered in the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, Vicuña exiled in London and as the political activism of her art intensified, revolutionary icons and influences—ranging from Karl Marx and Chilean folk singer and social activist Violeta Parra to Andean popular art, animism, and Indigeneity, which had long been her subjects—became poignant symbols of what was under attack. Also, on view in textiles, film, and works on paper are Vicuña’s language-based Palabrarmas, or “word weapons,” which are politically engaged, metaphorical riddles and poems displaying her conception of language as a living entity.

In the mid-1960s Vicuña began her Quipu series, soft sculptures made of suspended strands of knotted and unspun wool sometimes combined with found objects. The quipu (in Quechua, khipu, meaning knot) was a system of knotting colored threads to convey complex narrative and numerical information, created in the Andes in South America and later abolished by European colonizers. Vicuña reimagines her Quipus as a poetic response against cultural, ecological, and economic violence. In this exhibition, the artist premieres a three-part installation, Quipu del Exterminio / Extermination Quipu (2022), representing life, death, and resurrection as a call to action to stop the extinction of earth’s species and the loss of biocultural diversity. On August 31, the artist will perform Ex-termination Living Quipu in the museum’s rotunda, a ceremony and participatory event for the healing of earth, where the public is invited to take part in a collective gesture of weaving love for land and sea.

Learn more about Cecilia Vicuña: Spin Spin Triangulene through the Guggenheim Digital Guide, featuring audio commentary by the curators, as well as narrated and written insight on selected works by the artist herself.

This exhibition is organized by Pablo León de la Barra, Curator at Large, Latin America, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, and Geaninne Gutiérrez-Guimarães, Associate Curator, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.

Cecilia Vicuña (b. 1948, Santiago) received her MFA from the Escuela de Bellas Artes, Universidad de Chile, in 1971 and continued with postgraduate studies at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, from 1972 to 1973. Vicuña currently lives and work in New York and Santiago. Recent solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (forthcoming); Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, Bogotá, (2022); Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (CA2M), Madrid (2021); CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco (2020); Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2020); Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Florida (2019); Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2019); Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2019); Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (2019); Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus (2019); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2018); Brooklyn Museum, New York (2018); the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2018); Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, University of Chicago (2018); Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (2017). Vicuña has been featured in numerous exhibitions and biennials; the artist will be included in the upcoming 59th Venice Biennale, The Milk of Dreams, and has been awarded the Biennale’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement (2022). Her work is in numerous international private and public collections, including the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin; Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain de Lorraine, Metz, France; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago; Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA); Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago; Pérez Art Museum Miami; Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Tate, London. Vicuña is the author of 27 volumes of art and poetry published in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Her filmography includes documentaries, animation, and visual poems.

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