Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art at Whitney Museum of American Art, July 13 – September 30, 2018

Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay investigates the complex ways in which Indigenous American notions of construction, land, space, and cosmology are represented in contemporary art. The exhibition highlights the work of seven established and emerging Latinx artists based in the United States and Puerto Rico (Latinx is a gender-neutral term for people of Latin American heritage). These artists—william cordova, Livia Corona Benjamín, Jorge González, Guadalupe Maravilla, Claudia Peña Salinas, Ronny Quevedo, and Clarissa Tossin—are inspired by Indigenous thinking about the built environment and natural world; they employ a wide range of references, from vernacular adaptations of pre-Columbian temples to constellations as metaphors for migration routes.

Each of the three title words in Quechua, the Indigenous language most spoken today in the Americas, holds more than one meaning. Pacha denotes universe, time, space, nature, or world; llaqta signifiesplace, country, community, or town; and wasichay means to build or to construct a house. Reflecting the richness of these ideas, the works on view explore the conceptual frameworks inherited from, and still alive in, communities in Mexico, Central America, and South America that include the Quechua, Aymara, Maya, Aztec, and Taíno, among others. By preserving and foregrounding ancestral ideas that transcend the Western concept of architecture, and offering alternate ways to understand the environment around us, the artists in the exhibition challenge colonial legacies and the belief in modernism as the ultimate paradigm of development in the Americas. For them, Indigenous art and architecture remain very much part of—and relevant to—the present.” — Introductory Wall Text

Installation view of works by Livia Corona Benjamín. Photo by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

Installation view of works by Guadalupe Maravilla. Photo by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

Guadalupe Maravilla, Requiem for a border crossing of my undocumented father #3, 2016. Archival inkjet print, 20 x 30 in. Edition 1 of 5. Collection of the artist.

Claudia Peña Salinas, Cueyatl, 2017. Brass, dyed cotton, and concrete frog, 24 1/2 x 24 x 61 in. Collection of the artist, 2017.

Installation view. Photo by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

Ronny Quevedo, quipu, 2017. Screen print, contact paper, and enamel on paper, 44 x 38 in. Collection of the artist. Photo credit: Argenis Apolinario.

Clarissa Tossin, Ch’u Mayaa, 2017, production still. Choreography/Performer: Crystal Sepúlveda; Cinematography: Jeremy Glaholt. Originally commissioned and produced by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs for the exhibition “Condemned to be Modern” as part of Getty’s “Pacific Standard Time:LA/LA.” Courtesy the artist.

Clarissa Tossin, A two-headed serpent held in the arms of human beings, or, Ticket Window, 2017. Silicone, walnut, faux terracotta (dyed plaster), 46 x 53 1/2 x 5 in. Collection of the artist; Courtesy of Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles.

Left: Clarissa Tossin, Ha’ K’in Xook, from Piedras Negras to Hill Street, 2017. Photo by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.

This exhibition is organized by Marcela Guerrero, assistant curator, with Alana Hernandez, curatorial project assistant.