States of the Arts


Every Place Becomes Home

by Ximena Zomosa
Installation art

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A gigantic, pink dress is spread across two perpendicular walls, laid out as though waiting to be picked up and pulled on by its giant owner. Surrounding it is a selection of embroidered everyday objects, crafted from the artist’s own hair. One table is sketched out in fine threads, set with a plate of food and cutlery. On another surface, a vase full of flowers is made out. The assembled items seem to represent a notion of domesticity, but in the absence of the woman to whom these things belong, they emanate a sense of emptiness.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

The Pearl Button

directed by Patricio Guzmán

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Water unites those separated by time and space. Distant lands can share a sea, and even the most isolated of individuals bring the same life-giving liquid to their lips. The Pearl Button explores the influence of this essential substance on the people of Tierra del Fuego, from its earliest settlers to those who speak in front of Patricio Guzmán’s own camera. The archipelago’s landscapes seize the screen, while Patagonians’ painted bodies are recorded in black-and-white stills. Set against this contemplative consideration of water, the crimes of Augusto Pinochet form a sobering history lesson.

Words by Hugh Maloney


by Cecilia Vicuña

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At Ollantaytambo, Peru, the walls and street grid built by the Inca remain intact. Amid the ruins is a fountain complex, the Inkamisana. Cecilia Vicuña celebrates this stone structure, in awe of its impressive features. Just as the Inca created the site for water worship, the opening words speak of a higher power: ‘Stairs & rites / not for the foot / The building / thinks’. As Vicuña wonders at the Inkamisana’s imposing presence, she uses architectural anachronisms to illustrate her case: ‘Green skyscraper / Black ziggurat’. Her poem towers in imitation of its subject, its diminutive lines jutting out irregularly, as if they too were formed from carved, angular rock.

Words by John Wadsworth

Gracias a la vida

by Violeta Parra

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Accompanied by the most fragile of ukulele strums, Violeta Parra’s voice sighs and sways, spinning out long, lyrical phrases underpinned by pain. ‘Gracias a la Vida’ gives thanks for life, but recognises the need for an existence brimming with both happiness and sadness, each informing the other, combining to become something more complicated. Contrasts are presented: ‘laughter and tears’, ‘beaches and deserts’, ‘nights and day’. Parra’s delivery seems both world-wise and world-weary. As she looks back, she proclaims that complexity is life’s most invaluable gift.

Words by Lewis Coenen-Rowe

More to discover

Every Place Becomes Home: Read more about Ximena Zomosa on the Brooklyn Museum website.

The Pearl Button: Watch the trailer here, and read an article about the film by Matthew Harrison Tedford for Mubi. Eric Hynes has interviewed Patricio Guzmán for Film Comment, as has Tomas Urbina for Vice.

Inkamisana: Read the poem here, and visit Cecilia Vicuña’s website here.

Gracias a la vida: Listen to the song here.

Question of the day

Which Chilean artworks would you recommend, and why?
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I visited the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, and fell so deeply into the struggle of people against the regime of Augusto Pinochet. The ‘No’ campaign poster for that movement stuck with me.

– Annie Hart, musician and member of Au Revoir Simone (via The Brief →)

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