Cecilia Vicuña, El Vaso de Leche, Bogotá l979, photo: Oscar Monsalve
Cecilia Vicuña
El Vaso de Leche

The politically engaged works of the Chilean artist and poet Cecília Vicuña’s (*1948, Chile) are tapestries of personal, national and ecological references. Weaving together different thematic threads is at the core of many of Vicuña’s performative actions. Deeply influenced by the indigenous people of the Andes, she frequently works with threads, textiles and texts. These are also symbols of female work and domesticity – another key subject addressed in Vicuña’s art. In 1966, even before graduating from the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes de Chile, she began creating sculptural-performative interventions suggestively called “Precarious” (precarious works). A “Precarious” is an assemblage of found materials – wood sticks, leaves, stones, feathers, threads, shells, plastic and bones – which she arranges and displays in the landscape. As the name suggests, these works rapidly deteriorate and are reabsorbed by the environment. In 1972-73 (1973 being the year when the Popular Unity coalition of President Salvador Allende was overthrown by General Pinochet’s military coup), Vicuña exhibited 400 “Precarious” works as an act of political and cultural resistance: “Politically, they stand for socialism, magically they help the liberation struggle, and aesthetically they are as beautiful as they can be to comfort the soul and give strength.”

artist's website: www.ceciliavicuna.com

In 1979, Cecília Vicuña described the performance El Vaso de Leche (The Glass of Milk) in the following: “It was estimated that 1,920 children had died in Bogotá from drinking contaminated milk. A company had added paint and water to the milk in order to make more money. To protest the ‘milk crime’ I announced the spilling of a glass of milk in front of the residence of the liberator Simón Bolivar. People gathered, I spilled the glass. This work was performed by invitation of CADA (Colectivo de Acciones de Arte from Chile) as part of their piece Not to Die of Hunger in Art, performed in Santiago.” (Cecília Vicuña) This film combines documentary material, such as photographs, press clippings and drawings, with a re-creation of the original performance.

Courtesy Cecilia Vicuña

Document media
Video, colour, silent, English subtitles, 3:20 min

Issue date

activism, health/illness, resistance, vulnerability

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Helena Almeida
Eleanor Antin
Malin Arnell
Oreet Ashery
Augusta Atla
Margarita Azurdia
Antonia Baehr
Maja Bajević
Anne Bean
Anat Ben-David
Renate Bertlmann
Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz
Nisrine Boukhari
Marijs Boulogne
Tania Bruguera
Nancy Buchanan
Maris Bustamante
Cabello / Carceller
Shirley Cameron/ Monica Ross/ Evelyn Silver
Graciela Carnevale
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
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Helen Chadwick
Chicks on Speed
Lygia Clark
Paul Clarke
Mary Coble
Corpus Deleicti
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Laura Cottingham
Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen
Katrina Daschner
Vlasta Delimar
Carola Dertnig
Teresa María Díaz Nerio
Ines Doujak
Orshi Drozdik
Yingmei Duan
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Fabienne Dumont
Silvia Eiblmayr
Diamela Eltit
Rose English
Factory of Found Clothes
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Les filles Föllen
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Angelika Fojtuch
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Anna Bella Geiger
Rimma Gerlovina and Valeriy Gerlovin
Patrycja German
Kate Gilmore
Trine Mee Sook Gleerup
Mona Hatoum
Lynn Hershman
High Heel Sisters
María Teresa Hincapié
Nan Hoover
Icelandic Love Corporation - Gjörningaklúbburinn
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Elżbieta Jabłońska
Françoise Janicot
Joan Jonas
Anne Jud
Birgit Jürgenssen
Kirsten Justesen
Line Skywalker Karlström
Tina Keane
Klonaris / Thomadaki
Bettina Knaup & Beatrice Ellen Stammer
Jakob Lena Knebl
Verica Kovacevska
Elena Kovylina
Katarzyna Kozyra
Christina Kubisch
Kvinder på Værtshus (Women down the pub)
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Nicola L
Latifa Laâbissi
Leslie Labowitz
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Katalin Ladik
Sigalit Landau
Klara Lidén
Kalup Linzy
Natalia LL
Léa Lublin
Jumana Manna
María Evelia Marmolejo
Muda Mathis
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Mónica Mayer
Ana Mendieta
Marta Minujín
Fina Miralles
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Charlotte Moorman
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Rabbya Naseer & Hurmat Ul Ain
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Yoko Ono
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Paulina Ołowska & Lucy McKenzie
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Gina Pane
Letícia Parente
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Bojana Pejić
Jillian Peña
Performance Saga
Sanja Iveković & Performance Saga
Friederike Pezold
Howardena Pindell
Adrian Piper
Mariuccia Pisani
Polvo de Gallina Negra
Pussy Riot
Yvonne Rainer
Eglė Rakauskaitė
Laurence Rassel
Chris Regn
Jytte Rex
Àngels Ribé
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Angelika Richter
Jesusa Rodríguez / Liliana Felipe
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Martha Rosler
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María Ruido
Raeda Saadeh
Estíbaliz Sábada
Andrea Saemann
Zorka Ságlová
Les Salonnières and Dr. Soley
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Cornelia Schleime
Carolee Schneemann
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Schwarze Schokolade
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Annika Ström
Melati Suryodarmo
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Milica Tomić
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