PRINT March 2021

Portfolio: Cecilia Vicuña

Cecilia Vicuña, Boceto para star resistir (Draft for Star Resistance), 1977, graphite on paper vellum, 27 × 26".

“MY WORK DWELLS ON THE NOT YET,” writes the Chilean artist, poet, and activist Cecilia Vicuña. From her early ephemeral “precarios” made in Chile—many never documented—to the monumental Disappeared Quipu, 2018, at New York’s Brooklyn Museum, Vicuña places Indigenous knowledge systems and what she calls “ancient spiritual technologies” in dialogue with artistic strategies more familiar to the modern avant-garde to confront ecological catastrophe, patriarchal capitalism, and cultural homogenization.

Vicuña’s art has recently received a wave of institutional attention, most notably in the form of “About to Happen,” a traveling retrospective organized by Julia Bryan-Wilson and Andrea Andersson. On the occasion of a recently opened retrospective at Madrid’s Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo and a string of presentations in China and South Korea—at the Shanghai Biennial, the Gwangju Biennale, and Lehmann Maupin in Seoul—the artist has prepared a special portfolio for Artforum, featuring paintings, drawings, and poetry, with a focus on works from the beginning of her career.

Cecilia Vicuña, Muerte de Maiacovski (Maiacovski’s Death), 1973, oil on canvas, 19 3⁄4 × 26".

Cecilia Vicuña, Maiacovski's Death, Draft 1, 1973, graphite on paper, 8 × 10".

Cecilia Vicuña, Maiacovski's Death, Draft 2, 1973, graphite on paper, 8 × 10".


You think you are thirsty?

Think again

Your thirst is zero compared to the thirst
of the ancestors

the thirst
of those who have disappeared

those who have been

Cecilia Vicuña
Shame performance
Museo de las Americas, Denver, 2005

Cecilia Vicuña, Budas en la Cordillera de los Andes (Buddhas in the Andes Mountains), 1973, acrylic on linen, 33 1⁄2 × 28 1⁄2".

Cecilia Vicuña, Arrogance, 2002, graphite on paper, 8 1⁄2 × 11".

Cecilia Vicuña, María Sabina, 1986, oil on canvas, 59 3⁄4 × 49 1⁄2".