VICUÑA, Cecilia; HUBERMAN, Anthony (ed.); GERRITY, Jeanne (ed.)
This book brings together the Palabrarmas series by the Chilean-born artist, poet and activist Cecilia Vicuña. Images of these works―each a powerful juxtaposition of color, poetry and politics―appear alongside new essays and historical references chosen with the artist. Palabrarmas, a neologism that translates to “word weapons” or “word arms,” imagine new ways of seeing language. Taking the form of collages, silkscreens, drawings, poems, fabric banners, cutouts, mixed-media installations and street actions, Vicuña’s Palabrarmas bring together her work in poetry, activism, and visual art. Each one unpacks and deconstructs single words to reveal other words hiding within them, allowing new meanings to emerge.
The artist began making these visual anagrams while in exile in London and Bogotá after the Pinochet-led coup of 1973 in Chile and has always seen them as a form of liberation―as a way to “open up minds by opening up words,” as she puts it. The Palabrarmas have taken on new relevance in today’s political climate and appeared on the streets during Chile’s 2019 revolution as protest signs.
This book presents a range of Palabrarmas in color for the first time, with new essays by Mónica de la Torre, Carla Macchiavello, Cecilia Vicuña and Jeanne Gerrity, and reprinted texts by René Daumal, Robert Randall and Simón Rodríguez. [publishers’ note]