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DESPACHO: Museo Territorio...Ofrendas de Arte en los Andes


We have now entered the Anthropocene, a geological age in which plantation monocultures, pollution, and industrial-scale resource extraction are destroying or at best damaging vital ecological systems on which the planet and its biological diversity depend. Globally dominant modes of human existence that impoverish flourishing environments making it difficult for nature to regenerate itself are driving us towards this ecological crises and the sixth great extinction event. This is due to our ethically untenable relationship to nature, and as a result, large numbers of people whose livelihoods have done nothing to cause this crisis are most exposed to its consequences. Many come from cultural traditions that enrich and perpetuate healthy biodiversity as the means to ensure mutual flourishing. These Indigenous wisdom traditions are recognised for their sustainable world views and sophisticated understanding of our interdependence within the Earth System. 


In nature generosity is omnipresent and the Pachamama, as she is known amongst Indigenous Andean cultures, is the ubiquitous source of all of this reciprocity. Everything has a purpose and everything is interrelated; life is an eternal dance of giving and receiving energy, a mutual dependency, or what indigenous Quechua peoples call “Ayni.” Our planet’s ecosystems are maintained through this healthy relationship of all interdependent life cycles, yet our modern society is out of balance with this natural order and the Earth System is in crisis.


Traditionally the Indigenous peoples of Peru regularly perform ancient ceremonies called Despachos to reaffirm their relationship with the natural world. A Despacho is an offering or Ofrenda- in essence a message, which is one of veneration and gratitude sent to the Pachamama reminding us of the interconnectedness of all life. An Ofrenda is a spiritual act most effectively conducted in an outdoor setting integrating us with the living energy of the Universe. In this way the Despacho rituals are designed to connect us through ancestral wisdom with the Pachamama in order to, as we see it, align the physical, the spiritual, the emotional, and the intellectual aspects of our increasingly complex lives with a higher sense of community.


Within this framework and the current global pandemic, we understand that this point in time is one of transition, of both personal and collective reflection. In the Sacred Valley of the Incas many identify this time as the beginning of a new cycle, the Pachakuti, which in the Andean tradition refers to the cycle of changes of the earth. The Pachakuti is manifest in the union of the ancestral and the here and now. In this way, we can describe ourselves not as who we are or what we were, but who we are becoming.


From this perspective AWA proposes our Andean land art series entitled DESPACHO where we suggest considering the act of creating and exhibiting art as an offering. One that solemnly acknowledges our severance with the natural world and one that intends to contribute towards realigning the creative forces of the universe for the well being and continued survival of the planet and all of its life forms. The broader scope of Despacho aims to be a collaborative series of art installations generated by AWA consisting of the following:

  • We propose to engage in documenting the process of creating and installing a curated selection of art works in various Andean landscape locations within the region of Cusco and beyond. These locations will be atypical / non-gallery sites inspired by the concept of “museo territorio.” 

  • Museo Territorio in this context is identified as the use of non-gallery specific locations in natural settings including archeological sites to exhibit contemporary art. These intend to be sites of the artist's and curator´s choosing and would be identified within the framework of a historical communal or personal relationship to landscape, resulting from our own wanderings & research. 

  • The project will be divided in two phases: Phase 1 will focus on the Cusco region and Phase 2 will focus on a broader Andean perspective. The time frame for each installation will relate to the traditional cultural/ agriculture calendar considering the relevance of specific dates within traditional Andean ceremonial practices and the overall time frame of the project- production, installation and documentation dates- will have relevant significance resulting from close consultation with appropriate expertise.

  • Given the nature of the project and the nature of the times, the documentation of these installations is crucial and will result in both a digital exhibition as well as a physical publication (book/catalogue). All textual material will be presented in Quechua, Aymara, and English. 

  • Patsy Craig will curate the selection of artists identified in relation to specific sites and specific thematics revolving around issues concerning Indigeneity, decolonisation, environment, climate, language, ancestral knowledge, feminism, and racism. Thematics will develop in relation to geographic location informed by research and expert consultation bridging past with present. 


As the launch event for DESPACHO, we present Ofrenda, a traditional ceremony using a specially commissioned “manta” or ceremonial cloth made by weavers from the remote high Andean community called Ccochayoc above Lares in the Cusco region. Stay tuned for further developments with Despacho!

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