Cecilia Vicuña Seehearing the Enlightened Failure

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Cecilia Vicuña: Seehearing the Enlightened Failure is published in conjunction to the artist’s comprehensive exhibition retrospective curated by Miguel A. López, and held at Witte de With from May to November 2019.

Overlapping autobiography with sharp political reflections, Vicuña weaves visceral entanglements between word and seed, sound and thread, quipu and blood, body and dust, or rubbish and cosmos. This exhibition and accompanying publication is the most comprehensive survey today of a groundbreaking work that has been deeply influential among her peers and for later generations.

As the exhibition, this publication gives an overview of Vicuña’s artistic practice as a poet, visual artist, and activist from the 1960s to the present day. It is edited by López, designed by Studio Manuel Raeder in Berlin, and includes a forward by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, new essays by Miguel A. López, Julia Bryan-Wilson and Carla María Macchiavello, existing essays by Lucy Lippard and Dawn Adès, an anthology of texts authored by Cecilia Vicuña, and a number of previously unpublished visual documentation that expands our understanding of her work.

The book is fully illustrated. It includes color and black and white photography of more than 120 artworks by Vicuña, encompassing the full range of Vicuña’s body of work: textiles, poetry, performances, film, collages, drawings, paintings, precarious objects, and activism. A chapter in the book is especially devoted to these images, which are organized in four thematic sections.


—Year Published


Miguel A. López

Dawn Adès, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Lucy Lippard, Miguel A. López, Carla María Macchiavello, Cecilia Vicuña

Editorial Coordinator
Wendy van Slagmaat-Bos

Copy Editor
Janine Armin

Studio Manuel Raeder (Lucas Liccini, Manuel Raeder)

UNICUM | Giannoten Printed Media, Tilburg, the Netherlands



Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Print run
2019: 1000 copies

Cover images
Ángel de la menstruación [Menstruation Angel], 1973, oil on canvas, 48.2 × 57.1 cm. Photo: England & Co Gallery, London. Collection Catherine Petitgas. Inka Quipu, ca. 1500 A.D. Photo: Francisca Benitez.

This publication is published in conjunction with the exhibition Cecilia Vicuña: Seehearing the Enlightened Failure at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (May – November 2019); and Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City (February – August 2020)

Every effort has been made to respect copyrights while remaining true to the spirit of this publication. Please contact the publisher if you nevertheless feel that there has been an error or infringement of copyright.

Miguel and Cecilia would like to thank
Benjamin Barreda; Francisca Benítez; Gala Berger; Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, especially Daisy Nam; Valerie Fraser; Robert Leckie; Liz Munsell; Museo de Arte de Lima; Ricardo Ocampo Feris; Jim O’Hern; Norma Ramírez Arenas; Beatriz Salinas; Juanita Solano; TEOR/éTica; Paulina Varas

Image credits
All works by the artist and photos and images courtesy Cecilia Vicuña archive unless otherwise noted.

All rights reserved. © 2019 the editor, the artist, the writers, and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art is supported by the city of Rotterdam and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

This publication is in part supported by:
Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), Dirección de Asuntos Culturales (Dirac), Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile (Minrel), Embajada de Chile en Los Países Bajos (Embassy of Chile in the Netherlands), and Henry Moore Foundation.