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The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2020

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NOV 2020 Issue
The Miraculous The Miraculous: New York

26. (The Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum)

On a trip to New York in the late 1960s, a 20-year-old Chilean woman who is equally drawn to art and to poetry visits the Museum of Modern Art. She feels very strongly that as a Latin American woman she doesn’t belong in this temple of modernism, but then she notices a strange small painting of a girl at the beach by a self-taught Polish immigrant who only began to paint in his mid-60s. “I saw that and thought: why would it be in the Museum of Modern Art? It clearly didn’t fit. It was like a mistake. I completely connected with that mistake! I am that mistake!”

Some 10 years later, after years spent in Chile, England and Colombia, she moves to New York. During this nomadic period she has devoted herself to what she calls “arte precario,” precarious art. Initially taking the form of ephemeral sculptures and installations, her precarios evolve into ritualistic actions and oral performances inspired by ancient shamanistic practices. Beginning as poems, they can develop into films, songs, sculptures and participatory performances. She even explores stop-action animation, using figures from a famed 2,000-year-old Andean funerary wrapping in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum to create a narrative film. Guiding her work is a definition of poetry that is as radically open as her definition of art: “The poem is not speech, not in the earth, not on paper, but in the crossing and union of the three in the place that is not.”

(Cecilia Vicuña, Morris Hirshfield)

Contributor

Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). He is currently writing a book about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès. A Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art, he divides his time between Houston and New York.

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The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2020

All Issues