Kowkülen (Ser líquido) 2020
HD video, 3’28”
Courtesy of the artist
Sebastián Calfuqueo articulates the complex relations between bodily and territorial politics in Chile, drawing connections between the forms of dispossession to which Mapuche and queer people, as well as the natural world, have been subjected successively by colonial rule and then under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Kowkülen (Ser líquido) was developed in 2019 in the Curacautín area (a name that means ‘Gathering Stone’ in Mapudungun, the Mapuche language) during the months of civil unrest against social inequality that took place in the Chilean capital of Santiago. Articulating the Mapuche understanding of complex relations between bodies, territories, and nature, the work shows the artist’s body suspended across water, which is considered a living spirit in Mapuche culture. Regarding rivers as metaphors of gender fluidity, the work addresses water as a living space and articulates a relation between bodies and territories in which humans are not at the centre. A poetic text written by the artist in Mapudungun, a language still not recognized as official in Chile, and Spanish, addresses the neoliberal and extractivist practices that have affected Mapuche territories and water itself, which was privatised by Pinochet through a constitution that was voted to be replaced only in 2020.
This work presents a physical and personal journey regarding waters, wetlands, lakes, oceans, and rivers and was created in Curacautín in the Araucanía region in Chile. This area is under constant siege by the Chilean military, it’s also a region that has been tapered by national timber company who have developed neo-colonial extractivism projects on behalf of European enterprises and together they enable the monoculture of species that require a great amount of water. This process deprives a thousand people from access to water in Chile, a common that has been privatized ever since the dictatorship. This work questions the relationship between life and waters and the consequence of the extractivism in relationship to “Ixofillmogen”, that in Mapuche language means “all forms of life matter”.