Biography

Cecilia Vicuña is a poet, visual artist, and filmmaker born in Santiago de Chile. The author of more than twenty books of poetry, she exhibits and performs internationally. Her multi-dimensional works begin as an image that becomes a poem, a film, a song, a sculpture, or a collective performance. She calls this impermanent, participatory work “lo precario” (the precarious), a series of transformative acts or “metaphors in space” that bridge the gap between art and life, the ancestral and the avant-garde. Cornelia Butler, curator at MoMA, said of Cecilia and her peers,  "These artists are formulating a practice of the everyday that refigures the consciousness of the viewer, focusing on line, time, space... a radical return [to the line]... works in which a string or delicate line has great political, social or aesthetic implications. I am thinking here of Cecilia Vicuña's many works using lines of string, fabric, or even liquid." (MoMA onLINE catalog).

Her trajectory begins in Chile, where in 1967 she founded Tribu No, a collective that produced anonymous poetic actions throughout the city. Exiled in London, she co-founded Artists for Democracy in 1974 to oppose dictatorships in the Third World. In 1975 she moved to Bogotá, Colombia, where she worked with Corporación Colombiana de Teatro. She arrived in New York in 1980, where she joined the Heresies Collective that published Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics.

Her most recent books are: Spit Temple: Selected Oral Performances of Cecilia Vicuña (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012); Chanccani Quipu (Granary Books, 2012); and Sabor a Mí (Chain Links, 2011). She also co-edited The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry (New York, 2009).

Her most recent group exhibitions are artevida at Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil, 2015); The 18th Sydney Biennale (Australia 2012);  Dance/Draw (ICA Boston, 2011); and onLINE (MoMA, 2010).

Some of the collections that house her work are: Tate Gallery (London); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Chile (Santiago de Chile); MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

She was appointed Messenger Lecturer 2015 at Cornell University, an honor bestowed on authors who contribute to the "Evolution of Civilization for the special purpose of raising the moral standard of our political, business, and social life."

She lives in New York, where she co-founded oysi.org, a site for the oral cultures and poetries of the world. 

Cecilia Vicuña’s work is represented by England & Co Gallery in London.