Cecilia Vicuña: Lo Precario/The Precarious opens June 1 at the Wexner Center for the Arts

Thu, Apr 04, 2019

“Vicuña seeks to wrest art from its fixed position of belonging in museums, a well-rehearsed avant-garde move against institutionalization. Perhaps more unique, however, is her dialogue with the sea, earth, and dunes, with the dislocated and the dispossessed.“–Hyperallergic

“The precarious: maximum fragility against maximum power.”–Cecilia Vicuña

April 3, 2019–Columbus, OHJune 1–August 11, 2019, the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University presents Cecilia Vicuña: Lo Precario/The Precarious. The exhibition of over 50 pieces from a body the Chilean-born artist has been developing since the mid-1960s has been curated by Michael Goodson, the center’s Senior Curator of Exhibitions, and assistant curator Lucy Zimmerman. 

Vicuña first conceived of these ephemeral, intimately scaled sculptures as an ode to the transitory nature of life, creating them of quotidian, cast-off materials such as scraps of cloth, twigs, feathers, leaves, and butterflies. Every element is included for its formal and representational potential, imbuing each precario with astonishing complexity. 

The artist initially composed her assemblages along the ocean’s shores, leaving them there to go the way of all things with the rising tide. Vicuña continues to perform this ritual in waterways around the world.

Over time, the artist has also brought these works indoors to display on walls, shelves, and floors. They’ve become part of a broader conversation in her multidisciplinary practice about political struggle, the displacement and erasure of indigenous people and culture in a time of increasing globalism, and the alarming and ever more apparent effects of climate change on the natural world.

Lo Precario/The Precarious will also debut new precarios, to be created by Vicuña from materials found in and around the Wexner Center and Columbus.

“Since the beginning of her career, Vicuña has worked to create a discourse within the realms of conceptual art, land art, poetry, performance art, and feminist art practices,” notes Goodson. “She interlaces practices often consciously held apart by the art world as she seeks, literally, to weave together disparate disciplines and social communities, emphasizing relationships often overlooked in the cultural, economic, and environmental matrices that bind us as we acclimate to the 21st century.”

Cecilia Vicuña Tres elementos (Precarios) Mixed media 6 7/8 x 5 3/4 x 1/4 in.  Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul.

Image: Cecilia Vicuña, Tres elementos (Precarios)
Mixed media, 6 7/8 x 5 3/4 x 1/4 in. 
Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul.


About Cecilia Vicuña
A noted poet and author as well as visual artist, Vicuña (b. 1947, Santiago, Chile) has garnered a reputation as an activist through her multidimensional art (including performances, films, and writing) that confronts environmental deterioration, authoritarian rule, and pressing human rights issues. She is the author of more than 20 volumes of art and poetry published in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Her filmography includes documentaries, animation, and visual poems. 

Vicuña has received several awards, including the Anonymous Was a Woman Award (1999); and The Andy Warhol Foundation Award (1997). In 2015, Vicuña was appointed a Messenger Lecturer at Cornell University.  She was featured in last year’s celebrated Radical Women: Latin American Art 1960-1985, organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and was a selected artist for documenta 14 in 2017. Most recently, she was named a 2019 United States Artists Fellow and received an Achievement Award for 2019 from the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation. 


Exhibition-related events
A Spring Exhibitions Preview will take place on Friday, May 31, 5–8 PM, for Cecilia Vicuña: Lo Precario/The Precarious and accompanying exhibitions Barbara Hammer: In This Body and Jason Moran.

A curator tour, Michael Goodson on Cecilia Vicuña and Jason Moran, will take place Thursday, June 27 at 5:30 PM.

A short film by Vicuña, ¿Qué es para usted la poesía/ What is Poetry to You? (1980), will be presented July 1-31 in The Box, the Wex’s permanent space for video presentation. 


Visitor Information
Cecilia Vicuña: Lo Precario/The Precarious will be on view June 1–August 11, 2019, at the Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High St. (at 15th Avenue) on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus.

Summer gallery hours (through August 18) are 11 am–6 pm Tuesday–Wednesday, 11 am–8 pm Thursday–Friday, noon–7 pm Saturday and noon–4 pm Sunday. Galleries are closed Mondays. Admission is $8; $6 for seniors and Ohio State faculty and staff; free for Wexner Center members, college students, active military and veterans, and visitors 18 and under; free Thursdays 4–8 PM and the first Sunday of the month.

More info on bus routes, parking, and other visitor information is available here or at (614) 292-3535. 


Press contact: Melissa Starker 
(614) 292-9840 / mstarker@wexarts.org

Exhibition Support 
Support for arts access at the Wexner Center is provided by Cardinal Health Foundation and Huntington Bank.

The Wexner Center receives general operating support from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Ohio Arts Council, The Columbus Foundation, and Nationwide Foundation