"Navigate the contrasting shapes and materials of monumental sculptures
Poet and artist Cecilia Vicuña calls Quipu Womb a ‘poem in space.’ Over fifty large strands of unspun wool, dyed red, flow down from a metal ring high above our heads. Each cord has different knots spaced rhythmically along its length. The work references menstrual blood as well as the energies, flows and cycles of nature.
Vicuña draws from Indigenous weaving practices, ritual, and environmental activism. Many of these works include explorations of the quipu. This is an ancient system of knotting rope used by Inca and Andean cultures, thought to be an alternative to written language. ‘This must have been a female invention,’ claims the artist. Here, Vicuña’s quipu dramatically claims the space, celebrating female creativity and collectivity through the ages.
Quipu Womb shares the room with Joseph Beuys’s installation Lightning with Stag in its Glare. A large bronze sculpture, cast from a mount of earth, is suspended from the ceiling. It represents a lightning bolt striking the ground. Smaller sculptures symbolise animals surrounding it. The stag of the title is an ironing board balanced on logs, cast in shiny aluminum. This is a stark, petrified environment. Beuys was a performance artist, educator and environmentalist. He was concerned about modern society inclining towards ecological disaster.
Commenting on this pairing of works, Vicuña observes, ‘two realities come in contact. He saw society as the greatest work of art, and of course, I fully agree with that perception. My focus all along has been that it is our awareness that can affect change.’ "
Poem in Space for me was one of the most beautiful pieces that I saw on this visit, I was drawn to it, I wanted to step over the rope and post and lie in it and look up. The colour, so primal, the strands, full of evocation for the female, the knots of life, the shadows it casts. The story of Red thread shows the
Looking further into the artist, I find that she is a poet who works in the US but was exiled from Chile following politivcal unrest in the early 1980's.
"Vicuña refers to these particular works as “quipoems”—a contraction of poem and quipu; an online dictionary defines quipu, rather reductively, as “a device consisting of a cord with knotted strings of various colors attached, used by the ancient Peruvians for recording events, keeping accounts, etc.”
A pre-Columbian type of writing, in other, more poetical words—product of a literary tradition that has given the world such luminaries as Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, and Nicanor Parra. Vicuña, who was born in 1948 in Santiago de Chile, is supremely aware of the weight of Indigenous history anchoring twentieth-century Latin American culture."
"Blown up to the monumental proportions of immersive “soft sculpture,” her recent Athenian quipoem consists of giant strands of untreated wool, sourced from a local Greek provider, dyed a startling crimson in honor of a syncretic religious tradition that, via the umbilical cord of menstrual symbolism, connects Andean mother goddesses with the maritime mythologies of ancient Greece."
Another artist I have been drawn to who looks to myths and indigenous nations for inspiration.
"A quipu (khipu) was a method used by the Incas and other ancient Andean cultures to keep records and communicate information using string and knots. In the absence of an alphabetic writing system, this simple and highly portable device achieved a surprising degree of precision and flexibility.
8 May 2014
Quipu - World History Encyclopedia
Quipu literally translates to “knot” in Quechua.
In existence 4000 y before the incas. They do not know how they were used but they stored information, the numerical is seen below. The people who kept them - the keepers of the Quipu - quipucamayocs, who would visit the different areas and and send the information back tabulated.
I would like to explore weaving adn the means of communication, communication other than the written form to convey information.