“Árboles torcidos” arrives at the Art Gallery of the Universidad Católica de Temuco

An exhibition that invites us to rethink our relationship with the forest and to dismantle binary and colonial logics in nature. Between April 29 and May 26, 2022, you may visit the exhibition Árboles torcidos (Twisted Trees) at the Art Gallery of the Universidad Católica de Temuco from Monday to Friday, located at Alemania 0422, Temuco, that includes works from Agencia de Borde (art collective), Sebastián Calfuqueo (visual artist) and María Isabel Lara Millapán (poet).

An exhibition that is articulated as a polyphony of voices that propose diverse ways of coexistence and exchange with nature, from the body, language and visuality, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in three sensitive worlds to approach the relationship between humans and non-humans from a different perspective.

The poet María Isabel Lara Millapan proposes through orality an intimate relationship with nature that involves the dimension of dreams. Sebastián Calfuqueo uses video performance and photography to delve into historical and social conflicts that currently build and destroy connections with the forest in the Wallmapu, disarticulating the idea of a nature in binary terms. Lastly, the collective work of Border Agency reveals the contradictions that emerge from the division between nature and culture, whilst exploring the notions of landscape.

Maya Errázuriz, curator of the exhibition, says that “the polyphony of voices and views explore the affective ecologies of the current Wallmapu landscape, inviting visitors to discover new ways of relating to the non-human”.

An exhibition that arises from the Bosques de Fuego (Forests of Fire) project, led by Agencia de Borde since 2019, to question what we define as natural or cultural, exploring the place that the eucalyptus occupies in the experience of the Chilean landscape. The project then expands to include investigations on old-growth forests, in contrast to monoculture plantations. Agencia de Borde therefore applied to Fundación Mar Adentro’s Bosque Pehuén multidisciplinary residency program, which takes place in its conservation area located in the Alto Palguín sector of the Andean Araucanía.

In January 2022, the members of Agencia de Borde invited Sebastián Calfuqueo and María Isabel Lara Millapan to contribute to the exploration they would carry out in Bosque Pehuén. In this way, Árboles torcidos arises from the work carried out in this collaboration, examining the common root of the interrelationships between climate change, the ecological collapse, capitalism and systemic racism, and how these are expressed in the Andean Araucanía territory through its forests and landscapes.

In opposition to the logic of the monoculture plantation and the Western thought of the “hyper separation” of culture/nature–which seeks to simplify ecological complexity to create homogeneity, predictability, calculability and control–the Árboles torcidos exhibition seeks to unveil the importance of diversity, to understand how an individual forms a group, to portray deep time in nature, and break with the dualist structures linked to culture over nature, life over death, men over women, master over colonized, among others.

Upon entering the Art Gallery of the Universidad Católica de Temuco, an installation by Agencia de Borde can be seen: a stoneware ceramic pieces, which are records of the textures of tree stumps, together with a nocturnal image of a forest. They are the result of their investigation in Bosque Pehuén, showing the different strategies and research methods employed to understand a memory and history of the forest which is not perceivable to the naked eye. “When creating the ceramic pieces that due to the contact between the trunk and the paste, the imprinted textures of the tree stumps appeared, our attention focused on a dimension of the forest that gradually became more apparent: the interdependence and blurring of limits between the living and the lifeless in an old-growth forest,” says the artist collective.

In addition, the video performances of the artist Sebastián Calfuqueo (Las Quilas 2021 and Tray-tray ko 2022) are also exhibited–works that portray the immensity of nature, place the body as part of the landscape, and value all forms of existence–: “Places are important to me; if I decide to make a video performance, it is a decision that is directly related with inhabiting or relating to a specific place. Performing comes from a relationship with the space in which I work, with life, with traveling through places that speak to or become linked to my body, its history or its memory”.

Meanwhile, the voice of María Isabel Lara Millapán invites us to reflect on the territory from the whisper of nature in the Andean foothills of the Araucanía region. Her work proposes the dimension of dreams as a communicative link with a lost nature, the acceptance of cultural diversity, and how language can resist the cultural and natural flattening that is occurring in the territory.

Árboles torcidos is an invitation to engage with other forms of existence: those that promote the flourishing of multiple species, and that respect and include a relationship with the forests, both in their human and non-human dimensions. The challenge this exhibition poses is how to survive the homogenization of simplified landscapes in order to start thinking in/from/through them to promote other possible futures.

“Árboles Torcidos” can be visited from April 29 to May 25, Monday to Friday at the Art Gallery of the Universidad Católica de Temuco, between 10am and 1pm, and from 3pm to 6pm, at Avenida Alemania 0422, Temuco.

This exhibition is an initiative financed by the Chilean National Fund of Art Creation of the Ministry of Culture, the Arts and Heritage with the support of Fundación Mar Adentro.

About the artists and the curator:

Border Agency. Art collective and artistic research project that began in 2012. The permanent members are Sebastian Melo (MA New Media and Cultural Form, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK), Maria R. Montero (PhD Goldsmiths, University of London, UK) and Paula Salas (MA Research Art, University of Amsterdam, NL). Border Agency explores the limits of the notions of landscape and seeks to understand from an interdisciplinary perspective how people, places and technology mutually determine each other. Using artistic practices as means and anthropology as method, their research materializes in visual, sound and written works. Their most recent exhibitions include: “El sonido del árbol al caer”, Galería Barrios Bajo, Chile (2020); “Tercer Paisaje” 14 Biennial of Media Arts, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Chile (2019); “Una explosión…”, SACO Biennial, Chile (2018), among others.

Sebastián Calfuqueo. Visual artist with a Bachelors and Masters degree in Visual Arts from the University of Chile, they are part of the Mapuche collective Rangiñtulewfu and Yene magazine. Of Mapuche origin, their work draws on their cultural heritage to propose a critical reflection on the social, cultural and political status of the Mapuche subject within current Chilean and Latin American society. Their work includes installations, ceramics, performance and videos, with the aim of exploring cultural similarities and differences, such as the stereotypes that occur at the crossroads between indigenous and westernized ways of thinking, and also to bring visibility to issues around feminism and sexual dissidence. Their most recent solo exhibitions have been: “Espejo de agua”, Galería Patricia Ready (2020); “Lo otro está aquí”, 80m2 Livia Benavides (2019); “Turbar”, Galería D21 (2018); “KANGECHI”, Parque Cultural de Valparaíso (2016) and in “Zonas en disputa” of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de la Universidad de Chile (2016). In 2017 they received the Municipality of Santiago Award and in 2018, the Fundación FAVA Award. In 2021 they were recognized with The Democracy Machine: Artists and Self-governance in the Digital Age award by Eyebeam, New York. Their works have been presented at the following biennials: 34 São Paulo Biennial (2021); 12 Mercosul Biennial (2020); 9 Biennial of Peace, SIART-Bolivia (2016).

María Lara Millapán. Mapuche poet born in Lof de Chihuimpilli, Quepe, Freire. She holds a doctorate in Didactics of Language and Literature from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain. She is currently an academic at the Villarrica Campus of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and an associate researcher at the Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Studies-CIIR. In 2016 she received the Asát’ap award for her contribution to education. She is co-author of two books, one educational: Kimün. Learning Mapudungun through poetry and stories (2014), and another testimonial: Zomo Newen. Life stories of Mapuche women in their struggle for indigenous rights (2017). Her work has been included in several anthologies. She has published three collections of verses, all bilingual (Mapuzungun and Spanish): “Puliwen ñi pewma / Sueños de un amanecer” (2002), “Ale / Luz de la luna” (2012), and “Trekan Antü” (2018), and the audio-poetry “Aukiñko” (2014).

Maya Errázuriz. Curator, editor and historian of art and architecture from the University of Boston, MA, USA. Her investigation focuses on the link between art and ecology, applied to nature conservation strategies. She is currently Head of Art and Publications at Fundación Mar Adentro where she leads curatorial investigations and a residency program, Bosque Pehuén, that brings together artists, scientists and humanities professionals for research and the creation of projects linked to a privately protected area of conservation. Among her most recent collaborations and curatorships, some highlights are: “Vegetation Ünter Strom”, co-curator, Bauhaus Dessau, Germany (2021); “Polygonal Forest”, Virtual Gardens, Ars Electronica Festival, Austria (2021); “Expanded Nature: making the invisible visible”, co-curator with Carlo Rizzo, Centro Cultural La Moneda (2020). She has also collaborated as an editor / writer in various publications on contemporary Latin American art.