Cecilia Vicuña review – Tate Turbine Hall’s most moving installation in years | art and design

TIt is the most powerful and mysterious Turbine hall commission In the long Tate Modern, Cecilia Vicuña Brain Forest Quipu is a poignant lament for a world that is disappearing, the loss of an ancient language and the destruction of societies, their ways of living and their cultures.

Two large sculptures hang from the ceiling, projecting the entire height of the space, one at the foot of the angular slope, the other on the other side of the bridge that divides the space in half. Faded conglomerates of rickety raw wool, knotted ropes and twine, fine woven nets and suspended braided materials droop and fall, sweeping across the ground and swaying in the air currents. There are rope ladders strung with bleached driftwood and bone, loose tangles and coils falling and loosening on the concrete beneath our feet, woven netting over our heads, bundled ropes dangling in the air.

There are so many details in this pair of structures, with their intricately woven joints, large cracked crevices and intricate detailing – pebble-sized pieces of corroded glass, lamb bones and bits of oyster shell, the remains of old dinners dumped in the Thames – that you feel like you’re never going to arrive. ever to an end. Vicuña recognizes the joy of searching, discovering, and thinking. Many of these clay-colored fragments were collected by collaborators from the Latin communities of London. Hanging from strings, like rain caught in the air, these little things have an almost miraculous quality, as if they had been rescued from the silt of past lives and fallen into the turmoil of the present.

Bryn Forest Quibo at Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London.
Visually appealing, tactile and somewhat beautiful… Brain Forest Quipu in Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern, London. Photography: Jay Bell/Rex/Shutterstock

The 74-year-old New York-based artist and poet Santiago (she has published more than 20 books) was born in Chile and studied at UCL Slade School of Fine Arts in London in the early 1970s. distance A CIA-backed military coup in Chile in 1973 I stayed in exile, first in London, then in Colombia and Venezuela. In 2009, Vicuña co-edited the prestigious magazine The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry. She is famous as an artist for her anti-monumentogue Precarious (unstable), made of existing materials. Her work on the Hyundai Commission at the Tate Modern takes its form from “quipu,” an ancient measurement, recording, and communication system of intricate weaving cords that the Quechua people used in the Andes for thousands of years until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Vicuña has worked to adapt the forms of this lost physical language into her poetry and art for most of her career.

As much as a pair of intricate, woven and braided carvings, whose presence is the paleness of dead things, bleached vegetation, and recent remains and relics, Brain Forest Quipu is a lament for lost language and deliberate destruction. The sound of birds and falling water, the accompanying noise of insects, a sad folk song and the artist’s own voice are braided in these sculptures. We hear string ensembles, guitars, choruses, field recordings, and defiant faraway cries. Sometimes the sound seems concentrated in one place, then another, rising and falling first here, then there. drifting under turbine hall The bridge and weaves between the sculptures themselves, transmitted by hidden speakers.

There are clips of intense silence, a chorus of human and animal, the hiss of insects, and a faltering marching band. This constant call and response also gets us moving. Turbine Hall is a bustling venue, but Vicuña and composer Ricardo Gallo orchestrated the size of the space as much as they did the sculptures themselves. The sound breaks down the past and present, the human and natural worlds. Feel it swear. More than just a background or soundtrack, the sound brings her sculptures to life, but with the devastation, loss, and extinction of the natural world. As visually appealing, tactile, and somewhat beautiful, these heartbreaking sculptures also recall dead vines, shedding of bark, dried gourds, and human detritus. I thought of the majestic and miserable shrouds swaying in the dry wind.

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