Cuzco’s Plaza Mayor at sunset, with a view of the Compañía de Jesus church. (Photo by C-M.)
After a couple of weeks back in the U.S., I’m still trying to shift my brain from the Andes back to California. But one of the many pieces of art that keeps occupying space at the top of my brain is the above sculpture of Saint James, at the Casa Garcilaso in Cuzco. The saint, one of the Twelve Apostles, is frequently depicted slaying a Moor. (Though he was beheaded in Jerusalem in AD 44, legend has it that Saint James appeared to fight on the side of the Christians in a Christians-versus-Moors face-off in Spain exactly 800 years later — hence the image.)
But in the sculpture above, Saint James (Santiago, in Spanish) is shown slaying an Inca. The piece above is a replica of a sculpture from a church in the Apurimac region, which lies west of Cuzco. Unfortunately, the wall text provided little in the way of specifics — such as a date when it may have been made or if this was a common motif of the era. My semi-educated guess is that it was made at some point in the 18th century or thereabouts. Whatever the specifics, this surely has to be one of the most moving pieces of art I saw during my trip…
The Casa Garcilaso-Museo Histórico Regional is located on the Plaza Regocijo. It is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 8am to 5pm. Entrance for foreigners is with the boleto turístico.
Apparently, this is a thing in Cuzco: so-called ‘Korean haircuts’ — as in haircuts inspired by K-Pop bands. Neither the people getting the haircuts or giving them are Korean, which makes this even more intriguing. And Peru doesn’t have a significant Korean population. (In fact, if there is a Korean population, it’s so small it doesn’t turn up in the official census stats.) Yet, somehow, K-Pop has entered the cultural ether (likely through the internet) and a few salons around town cater to lovers of the genre’s studiously disheveled shag ‘dos.
On the last evening, the bottles were illuminated and given away. By 9pm, they were all gone. (Photos by C-M.)
In what has to be one of the intense-surreal art experiences I’ve ever had, Celso wrapped up the La Luz installations at Qorikancha in Cuzco this past Wednesday by giving away all of the soda to the public. It started slowly. A couple of folks took bottles. Others approached tentatively. Within half an hour, word had spread on the street that soda was being given away Qorikancha. Police, old ladies, young boys — all showed up and took home a piece of La Luz. Some told us they’d serve the soda at a celebration for Santa Rosa de Lima, a Peruvian saint whose saint day was the next day. It’s almost as if people felt compelled to give us an explanation for why they were taking a bottle. In less than an hour, every last bit of the installation was gone.
Find pix of the last three days of installations below. And thanks again to curator Vera Tyuleneva, the awesome Willy and everyone at Qorikancha for such an unforgettable experience. I’ll be mulling this over for years.
A couple of days ago, a single ray of light from a clerestory window at Qorikancha illuminated a single stack of bottles from Celso‘s La Luz installation (at left), in Cuzco, Peru. Final night is tonight. Please come by at 7pm and take home a piece of the work. (Photo by C-M; click on the image to see it large.)
- Chicago: MCA DNA: John Cage, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chiago. Opens Saturday.
- NYC: Doris Duke’s Shangri-La, at the Museum of Arts & Design. Opens next Tuesday, at Columbus Circle.
- NYC: Petrochemical America: Photographs by Richard Misrach, Throughlines by Kate Orff/SCAPE, at Aperture. Through October 6, in Chelsea.
- NYC: Myths and Realities, at SVA’s Visual Arts Gallery. Opens today, in Chelsea.
- Kingston, NY: Maria Kozak and Richard Saja, The Other, More Secret Garden, at One Mile Gallery. Opens Saturday, in the Hudson Valley.
Bottles of soda touch on the base of a Spanish arch, on Day 7 of the La Luz install. (Photos by C-M.)
This week, Celso will be wrapping up the La Luz installations at the Qorikancha Museum in Cuzco, Peru. This has been an absolutely incredible project to work on: spending our days studying every corner of this remarkable building, which is a layer cake of both Inca and Spanish history.
This Wednesday, August 29th, represents the last day of installations. At 7pm, every last piece of La Luz will be given away to the public. If you are in the area, please come by and take a piece of La Luz home with you. The event is free and open to the public.
In the meantime, you can gander the last few days worth of installations below. For previous installations — e información en español — click here. Also, see Celso’s blog for additional coverage.
Old and new: the Inca walls that surround Qorikancha were once edged in gold. Here they are topped with golden soda. Seen here: La Luz 08.19, by Celso. (Photos by C-M.)
For the last four days, Celso has been building a series of architectural interventions around the Museo Qorikancha y Convento de Santo Domingo in Cusco, Peru. The museum houses two important structures: the remains of one of the most important temples in the entire Inca empire and a working Dominican monastery that dates back to the 16th century – and which was built on top of and around the original pre-Columbian structure. In honor of the gold that once covered the interior walls of this important Inca shrine, Celso has been creating a series of installations out of golden Peruvian soda titled La Luz. These installations will move around various locations in the museum until the end of the month.
On August 29th, at 7pm, the museum will host a free event in which the public will be invited to take a piece of La Luz home with them. If you are in Cusco, please consider yourself invited!
In the meantime, check out our photo diary of the work-in-progress below. Find more on Celso’s blog.
And a little Spanish borrowed from the museum’s publicity materials:
La Luz es una instalación artística hecha por el artista mexicano-norteamericano Celso, con la curaduría de Vera Tyuleneva. Está compuesta de una serie de estructuras de pequeña escala, diseñadas específicamente para este contexto arquitectónico, elaboradas de botellas de gaseosas peruana. Empleando la luz y el color dorado de esa bebida, el artista rinde homenaje a la luz resplandeciente que emanaba antaño de los legendarios adornos de oro en el temple del Qorikancha. La instalación será movida entre diferentes ubicaciones dentro del museo del 16 al 29 de Agosto.
A las 7pm el 29 de Agosto 2012 – el ultimo día de la muestra – los elementos primarios de la instalación (botellas selladas de gaseosa de 2 litros) serán repartidas gratuitamente al public. Todos están invitados. Entrada libre.
En el intertanto, podrán ver en las siguentes fotos como las primeras instalaciones se han llevado a cabo. La obra no hace uso de materias de construcción y no altera ni daña de modo alguno el patrimonio arquitectónico y arqueológico.
Today, my partner-in-crime, El Celso, will begin producing a series of architectural installations around the site of Qorikancha and the Convento de Santo Domingo Museum, in Cusco, Peru. Through the end of August, he will create various site-specific arrangements — using bright yellow Peruvian soda — to pay tribute to the gold that once covered the walls of what was once the Inca Empire’s most important temple. On August 29th, there will be a closing party at 7pm, in which the public will be invited to come and take a piece of La Luz (The Light) home with them. If for some reason you find yourself in Cusco, please come!
For regular readers of the blog, you’ll know this started off as a Kickstarter project back in April. And, now, here we are in Cusco — studying ancient ruins, poking around the corners of an important monastery and just generally soaking up the history of the place. This is really a dream-come-true (even if my every bone is aching from hauling around 1,300 pounds of soda at 11,000 feet above sea level). And the folks at the museum and the people of Cusco in general, have been all kinds of awesome.
Thanks to everyone who has supported us in this project. For those who contributed to the Kickstarter, you are all officially thanked right here. (Though I’d like to thank you again!) I’ll be posting occasional updates. For all the latest, check out Celso’s blog.
Also, fyi, the project got a plug in The Art Newspaper.