Plunder Me, Baby     

 

All images copyright © Kukuli Velarde except Yingge Museum images by Eugene Hon

Cholibiris never bonus, if bonus never perfectis, if perfectis, always cholibiris

                                Tulio Loza

Cholo soy, y no me compadescas

                                Luis Abanto Morales

Kuchita Rimapallay  (anda y hablale al chancho)

                                Victoria Cano Diaz

   


A group of colorful dancers pass by us talking and laughing. I am ten, and want to know what they are saying; I ask Lorenza, a sixteen year old from a tiny Peruvian village who is my nanny. Her right hand waves nervously in front of her face as if scaring away the ghost of some inopportune ancestor. She is looking at me with anger while carefully repeats as a mantra a lesson I guess, needed to be learned: “I” she says “don’t speak Quechua”. Her voice, dyed by the sound of five hundred years of colonization cracks trapped in her windpipe, while trying desperately to soften her accent.


Lorenza. When Christopher Columbus discovered the ignorance of Europe, legions of adventurers came to undertake the conquest of the “New World” The trade to be accomplished was simple: their philosophical, social and economical advances for gold and silver, “culture” for “natural resources” I guess we were just walking around naked and dirty, sinful and stupid ready to be upgraded to a better cultural sphere.


Was the trade good for you Lorenza? The name-calling, the put downs, the lack of opportunities, the despair, the poverty, are they worthy for you?  What made you choose the safety of a “Spanish only” reality”? What made you feel inadequate and inferior? Would it make you proud of your native blood to know the artworks of Pre-Columbian makers are expensive collection items, beautifully displayed in the best Museums of the Western world, definitely well respected and fully admired … spoils of wars?


Lorenza, I am sorry that many believe the bargain was worthy while you are invisible within a neurotic society that frenetically denies what the mirror says. I dedicate to you this body of work: an installation of ceramic pieces reminiscent of pre-Columbian art on shelves. They are awakened and they are aware of being watched. They may be very well taken care of, as exotic animals in a zoological entertainment center, but they are trapped, estranged of context and stripped of all meaning. Each is titled with pejorative names, the same ones you, and many like you and I have endured because of our indigenous ancestry. They all have my face for I had to become each of them to reclaim ownership and to take the name calling with defiance. They show in their attitudes and gestures the rebellious spirit that should never abandon our hearts. Not anymore passive pawns of their own history they are us.


We have to embrace our history in order to understand its consequences to finally raise our heads with dignity. After all Lorenza, we are all from one single race, do you know which? The most inhuman, the human race.