A new weekend-long series of films by Chilean artist, poet, and activist Cecilia Vicuña is coming to Lower Manhattan’s Metrograph theater. Running Saturday, November 11 and Sunday, November 12, the program will feature at least a dozen screenings of rarely seen films by the artist as well as Cecilia Vicuña: Extermination Living Quipu — a new film documenting Vicuña’s eponymous one-time performance during her first New York museum retrospective Spin Spin Triangulene at the Guggenheim Museum last year.
Organized in partnership with the Guggenheim, the Metrograph film series is organized into three parts — Sacred Sounds, Quipus, What Is Poetry?, and Prayers for Continuation of Life — and will include post-screening conversations with Vicuña, who was awarded the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement last year. Following the programming, there will also be a question-and-answer session with Extermination Living Quipu directors Stephen J. Grant and Stephan Knuesel. In the spirit of collective healing and community, Vicuña will also lead special rituals for audience members in conjunction with the films.
Born in Santiago and based in Manhattan, where she has been living since her exile from Pinochet’s Chile in the ’80s, Vicuña has often employed a variety of mediums including poetry, painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and film to interrogate issues concerning Indigenous history and culture, human rights, the legacy of European colonialism, and environmental destruction. Although better known among North American audiences for her poetry, she is celebrated for her textile installations and performances incorporating “quipoems” — a combination of poetry and the ancient Incan and Andean quipu system for recording stories, poems, and other information with knotted multicolored cords.
She is also recognized by her precarios works — fragile sculptures carefully constructed out of discarded materials that one often stumbles upon while walking along the coast such as shells, feathers, bones, stones, and pieces of glass.
In addition to Extermination Living Quipu, other highlights of the two-day film series include screenings of Vicuña’s first documentary short “¿Qué es para usted la poesía?” (“What Is Poetry To You?”) (1980), which explores oral history, community relations, and street culture of Bogotá, Colombia, through the lens of the film’s titular question. Another standout film in the program is Beach Ritual (2017), which documents a group performance set near Athens involving the seaside sacrifice of unspun red Greek wool.
A complete list of films and more information can be accessed on Metrograph’s website.