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Kukuli Velarde

Resident Artist Guest Artist - Past

Residence Time: 1997-2001

I am a Peruvian-American artist. My work, which revolves around the consequences of colonization in Latin American contemporary culture, is a visual investigation about aesthetics, cultural survival, and inheritance. I focus on Latin American history, particularly that of Perú, because it is the reality with which I am familiar. I do so, convinced that its complexity has universal characteristics and any conclusion can be understood beyond the frame of its uniqueness.

At the present time, I am working on a project titled CORPUS: Contemporary Art and Historical Identity. A Study of Peruvian Aesthetic Heritage Through Art. It consists of ceramic sculptures, based on Catholic icons which conform a festivity known as Corpus Christi in Cusco – Perú. In addition there will be a video component to be screened over either original or exact replicas of pre-Columbian figurines, depending on the venue’s location.

CORPUS narrates the history of my country of origin, incorporating pre-Columbian and Colonial sensibilities by visually mimicking syncretism within a contemporary narrative. My concern with this issue coincides with the aesthetic and cultural decolonizing actions that are taking place now around the world. Colonization and coloniality have for centuries forced populations to dismiss, among other things, their regional aesthetics, including their understanding of personal beauty. The consequence is the belief that a universal aesthetics exists, though it is actually rooted in European canons of beauty, which do not correspond to all populations. What overwhelms public advertisement and TV programming in Perú are people who have non prominent indigenous features, and do not reflect most of their audience. I am aware I am Western but I feel that populations who are like me are mostly observers and usually followers.

Unable to find themselves in today’s “universal” aesthetics, many are either creating alternatives that suit their taste or ones that respond to their ancestral history. It is a search for dignity, the one lost through centuries of imposition and disdain.

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Kukuli Velarde: Insichapuitu catalogue developed by The Evelyn Shapiro Foundation

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