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by Kukuli Velarde
January 1, 2018 – January 31, 2018

Every month Marginalia invites an artist, curator or project to provide a series of images that will serve as the background of Terremoto, in relation to their practice and current interests. At the end of each month, the identity of our guest is revealed and the whole series of images is unveiled.


For millennia, the territory known as Peru has been setting for many cultural developments. For instance, Caral-Supe, that is said to be the most ancient city of America, flourished 2.700 years before our time. When the Egyptian pyramids of Giza, Djoser and the Great Sphinx were built, when the Indo blossomed in what is today Pakistan, Mesopotamia was built in Iraq, and some barbarians constructed Stonehenge in Great Britain, Caral-Supe created impressive architectural and engineering structures.

Likewise, civilizations such as Chavin, Paracas, Vicus, Moche, Nazca, Tiwanaku, Wari, Chimu, Cupisnique, Chancay or Inca, built urbanizations with aqueducts to distribute water in cities, irrigation channels for agriculture, they built buildings resistant to telluric movements and practiced cranioplasties with successful results. They also domesticated the potato plant (producing more than a thousand different types of it), they developed maize, cotton, cinchona tree, various types of chili, peanuts, quinoa and amaranth crops. In doing so, they contributed to the world with staple foods that would later sustain nations around the world in times of famine and that would improve the gastronomy of many societies in Europe and Asia.

From the Nazca and Pampas de Jumana lines on the south coast, to Macchu Picchu; from the craftsmanship of the Paracas fabrics to the stone reliefs of Chavín de Huántar, my ancestors invented their world, made completely in their image and likeness.

Five centuries ago, a handful of European men changed the course of history forever through a violent encounter. When the Inca Empire consolidated and a dispute over the inheritance of power provoked a division in the territory, Francisco Pizarro, followed by a handful of adventurers, began his journey to Cajamarca, where he would take the Inka Atawallpa as hostage, killing him later. Those European men took their kingdom and their universe. My work has often revolved around the consequences of that encounter.

Peru is socially the result of a collision of two worlds that barely merged. In a country where the majority have indigenous roots, discrimination against ourselves is palpable in attitudes and words that are often found in assumptions and beliefs that are never questioned: if anger comes to you, “the Indian came out”; if you marry a person with lighter skin, “you are improving your race”; if an insult is proffered, it probably suggests a racial description. Peru is a country where Western / European aesthetics is the predominant aesthetic, exported to Latin America and the world through social, political and economic impositions. From one moment to another, this aesthetic became the paradigm with which to measure, compare and define what art is, and what is beautiful and sublime, in relation to both, objects and people. We are “ugly” in front of the Western epitome of beauty, we became invisible within our own landscape, ceasing to be the center of our own universe.

This state of affairs and the apparently eternal status quo of Peruvian society have led me to seek a correspondence between my physical aesthetics, my aesthetic perceptions and the aesthetics of my work. I do not intend to be free of Western influence, because it would be an impossible task. I only intend to insert myself in a visual dialogue initiated a long time ago by people who resemble me, while I represent my contemporary self: a product of colonization. I am a Peruvian urban middle class woman with indigenous roots. By positioning myself in this dialogue, I seek to portray our cultural dichotomy: Western culture and indigenous heritage that exist as a nemesis in our own skin. My work is based on colonial, popular painting, and pre-Columbian ceramics, not as an act of looting or appropriation, but of recognition and reconnection. I try to portray the paradoxical existence of those two worlds that cohabit for centuries, and to question racism, the inferiority complex, social injustice, machismo and the ethnic and cultural marginalization that abounds so much. My work is a denunciation, a challenge, a document that speaks of what we were and what we have become.


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Sorry, this entry is only available in European Spanish.