El Quipu Menstrual, an installation by Cecilia Vicuña as part of:

THE OTHER SIDE, CHILEAN WOMEN ARTISTS in the Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda

Santiago, Chile
November 9 - December 31, 2006

Located in:
Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda
West Gallery
Plaza de la Ciudadanía
26 Santiago Centro, Metro Moneda
(Use the Teatinos and Morandé Street entrance)

The museum is under La Moneda, the government palace which was bombarded during the military coup of l973, and recently restored.

>> What Is a Quipu?

A Menstrual Quipu
The Blood of the Glaciers Journal
November 17th
Street performance: I bring out the censored red fleece and place it in front of the government palace, pleading in silence to our President that she not sell our most precious heritage, the glaciers: “El ruego es el riego, el agua es el oro, Michelle, no vendas los glaciares.”

>> click for slideshow
November 9th (after censorship)
Opening night. Michelle Bachelet doesn’t show up. The Minister of Culture, Paulina Urrutia comes instead. I give her a copy of the letter, telling her of my request to Michelle: “don’t sell the glaciers, water is gold.” She listens, and says, “yes, Michelle will come to see the show.” 20,000 copies of the poem with a red thread begin to be distributed.  Most Chileans don’t know about El Niño del Plomo, or that he was found with a red thread. The red thread may be a symbol of union. The Incas conceived themselves, (the totality of their culture), as a quipu, seen from below, or from above, radiating a vision of the world from Cuzco into the four directions, all the way to the river Maule in the South of Chile. The work acquires a new name: “The Blood of the Glaciers.”

>> click for slideshow

>> El Niño del Plomo
November 8th
Performing at the Festival de Poesía Chilena at the Universidad de Chile, I tell the story of the censorship to the Quipu Menstrual.
November 6th: censorship
Offended by the thick streams of wool, some artists in the show ask the curator to remove my work or diminish it in size “because it is too big” (although it fits exactly the space asigned). Echoing their request, the curator asks me to undo the piece and create a thinned out version. Outraged by this request, I wish to remove my work from the show, but then I see: the violence against the threads is the violence against the glaciers. In Chile, the subject of the glaciers, and the struggle against the Pascua Lama project have been completely removed from the press. Nobody mentions it, and I don’t see art about it. . . so I decide to stay, and create a “Versión débil”, a “Weak version”,  a wounded quipu that tells the story of the censorship it endured.

>> click for slideshow

November 4th (before censorship)
I install a site specific version of the Menstrual Quipu: 28 streams of blood colored fleece. In the Andes, unspun wool is cosmic energy, pure potential.

>> click for slideshow

I am invited to take part in the exhibition “Del Otro Lado”, Art by Contemporary Women Artists in Chile, curated by Guillermo Machuca at the Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda. (At the foot of the government building.)
May 20th
I send my letter to Michelle Bachelet
January 15th, 2006
On election day, I place my vote at the foot of the glacier of El Plomo near Santiago, by creating “the menstrual quipu.”  The condor comes.

>> click for slideshow