January – August 2023
Flower World Quipu brings together a dynamic body of work and a new publication by Chilean-born Cecilia Vicuña, a poet and one of today’s most celebrated artists. The project, developed for MOCA Tucson and the Sonoran Desert borderlands, interweaves ecological and cosmic themes exemplified in Vicuña’s singular lifework. After encountering the 15 Flower World Variations of the Yaqui Deer Dance poem by Jerome Rothenberg in the mid-1980s, Vicuña began her own personal translation of the ceremony, creating a “poethical” dialogue between her Indigenous Andean mestizo perception and Yaqui poetics, through the shared symbol of sacrificial dance. Flower World Quipu is the culmination of Vicuña’s long-standing engagement with the Yaqui Deer Dance through a site-specific monumental quipu sculpture, a signature form drawing on an ancient Andean record keeping system consisting of knotted cords that the artist conceptualizes as a poem in space to diagram cosmological structures. The exhibition will feature a seed quipu, inviting visitors to examine strands of seeds native to the Sonoran Desert with magnifying glasses. Commissioned for MOCA’s Great Hall, the quipu will be presented alongside drawings, sound pieces, and poems that emerged from Vicuña’s translation process. Accompanied by the first United States publication of text, the exhibition will frame the ideas and objects woven through the project and involve a Tucson Minga (Vicuña derived the word from the Quechua minccacuni, meaning a continual process of reciprocal exchange for a common purpose), a collaborative piece manifested through interdisciplinary programs that combine science, the arts, and community engagement in celebration and solidarity with the Sonoran Desert.
The artist wishes to acknowledge that the concepts of “Flower World” and “Quipu” were created by our Mesoamerican and Andean ancestors respectively, and that this exhibition is devoted to honoring their gift to us. Out of respect for the Yaqui community, the project will avoid making use of their cultural images and artifacts.