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Cecilia Vicuña


    2002, 88 pages

    ISBN 0-932716-50-4


    Signed limited edition of 50, with an original drawing by the artist, $400. As of January 2023, only 12 remaining. Please inquire by email to

    ISBN 0-932716-60-1



    A long poem, a series of drawings, a fable, a multilingual dictionary—INSTAN is an exciting hybrid by Chilean poet, performance artist, and sculptor Cecilia Vicuña. Composed in handwritten lines, the poem/drawings give the unmediated effect of work created in a private journal. INSTAN is a multilingual book without translation, in which Vicuña places herself at the edge or limit of the experience of being in multiple languages. INSTAN explores a poetic language created at the level of the cognate, the ancient common roots of both English and Spanish. "One of the most vivid and creative personalities of the Latin American scene" (Quimera, a Spanish-language magazine), Cecilia Vicuña works in the tradition of the oral poetry of the High Andes, bringing forth a poetic universe of ancient resonance and new forms.




    Cecilia Vicuña is a poet, artist, filmmaker, and activist. Her work addresses pressing concerns of the modern world, including ecological destruction, human rights, and cultural homogenization. Born and raised in Santiago de Chile, she has been in exile since the early 1970s, after the military coup against elected president Salvador Allende. Vicuña began creating "precarious works" and  quipus in the mid 1960s in Chile, as a way of "hearing an ancient silence waiting to be heard." Her multi-dimensional works begin as a poem, an image that morphs into a film, a song, a sculpture, or a collective performance. These ephemeral, site-specific installations in nature, streets, and museums combine ritual and assemblage. She calls this impermanent, participatory work “lo precario” (the precarious): transformative acts that bridge the gap between art and life, the ancestral and the avant-garde. Her paintings of early 1970s de-colonized the art of the conquerors and the "saints" inherited from the Catholic Church, to create irreverent images of the heroes of the revolution. A partial list of museums that have exhibited her work include: The Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Santiago; The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) London; Art in General in NYC; The Whitechapel Art Gallery in London; The Berkeley Art Museum; The Whitney Museum of American Art; and MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art in New York.


    Vicuña has published over twenty art and poetry books, including New and Selected Poems of Cecilia Vicuña (Kelsey Street Press, 2018), Kuntur Ko (Tornsound, 2015), Spit Temple: The Selected Performances of Cecilia Vicuña (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012), Instan (Kelsey Street Press, 2001) and Cloud Net (Art in General, 2000). In 2009, she co-edited The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry: 500 years of Latin American Poetry. She edited ÜL: Four Mapuche Poets in 1997. She was appointed the 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 divides her time between Chile and New York.


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