Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen

26 November 2019 – 29 March 2020

Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami


About to Happen traces Cecilia Vicuña’s decades-long career to create a conversation about discarded and displaced people, places, and things in a time of global climate change. The exhibition is the artist’s first major solo show in the United States and brings together performance, sculpture, drawing, video, text, and site-specific installations created over 40 years. MOCA North Miami is the exhibition’s final venue, following presentations in New Orleans, Berkeley, Philadelphia, and Seattle.

Vicuña’s work reflects the overlapping dialogs of conceptual art, land art, poetry, and feminist art practices. For the first time in this traveling exhibition, the show will include painting, a practice which Vicuña began in the 1970s and to which she has recently returned – in some cases, repainting lost paintings from memory.  The addition of painting to Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen is an affirmation of a practice that exists, in its entirety, in the logic of every single work – and yet – is also, always evolving.

The exhibition will include an expansive presentation of Vicuña’s precario sculptures, which the artist began creating in 1966.  Vicuña assembles these “precarious works” from bits of wood, thread, and other found objects into temporary small sculptures that despite their modest scale have a surprising dynamism and energy. The exhibition also features the installation Burnt Quipu (2018), in which lengths of dyed wool hang floor to ceiling, connecting earth and sky, in tribute to recent forest fires in the greater West Coast region. Burnt Quipu is part of Vicuña’s longstanding artistic exploration of the ancient Andean writing tradition of “talking knots,” an advanced communication system inhibited during colonization.


Burnt Quipu, 2018 (detail)

Unspun wool, site-specific installation

Image courtesy of the Henry Art Gallery, photo by Mark Woods


Born in Santiago de Chile, Vicuña is a poet, visual artist, and filmmaker. She is the author of more than 20 books of poetry, and exhibits and performs internationally. Her multidimensional works begin as an image that becomes a poem, a film, a song, a sculpture, or a collective performance.

Vicuña’s work is included in the collections of The Tate Gallery, London; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Chile, Santiago, Chile; MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, 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 City, where she co-founded oysi.org, a site for the oral cultures and poetries of the world. Vicuña’s work is represented by Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul. Vicuna’s art has also been featured inDocumenta 14 and shown at Witte de With. She most recently was awarded the CINTAS, a very prestigious United States artist fellowship.


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