Cecilia Vicuña’s Homeric Blue Thread

Any visitor to documenta 14, in either Athens, Kassel or both, who saw the work of Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña would immediately think of the color red.

Red is also the color faced by the reader of her recent book About to Happen, published by siglio press.

Yet just over half-way through the book, the reader is confronted by another color, in the form a blue hand.

This blue hand then multiplies and spreads to blue feet.

Then slowly the dyed blue of the body shifts into a heap of blue wool.

And, finally, this blue wool is twisted into a fine, blue thread.

Accompanying the first image of the blue hand, Vicuña pays homage to her fellow Chilean, the poet Gabriela Mistral, by quoting a poem and telling the story of her funeral in Santiago in 1957.

The poet’s image of the blue feet (‘blue blue with cold’) paves the way for the photographs of the blue-stained hands and feel that follow. Accompanying the crisscrossing blue thread, Vicuña weaves a  complex series of quotations.

The entry from her 1972 ‘Stupid Diary’ describes the immediate context for the blue thread, to escape the ‘normalcy’ of the artist’s room. But at the same time, this tenuous thread also connects her to sky and other worlds. These worlds include the poetry of Homer (‘sea-blue wool’) and the sacred color of ‘deep blue’ the ‘invisible universe’ of word from southern Chile. These ancient images, both global and local, are then tied to the image of the planet earth from space, described as ‘a tiny sliver of blue’. Vicuña’s blue thread has pulled us through time and space, encompassing immense scale and epic poetry as well as the singular and regional word and the entry in a diary about a normal room. 

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