Cecilia Vicuña’s Brain Forest Quipu is a multi-part installation made up of sculpture, sound, music and video.
The quipu is an ancient South American recording and communication system made from knotted threads. Vicuña has been exploring and transforming the quipu in her work for over five decades.
At the centre of Brain Forest Quipu are two sculptures that hang 27 metres from the ceiling. They are woven together using a range of organic materials, including found objects, unspun wool, plant fibres, rope and cardboard to evoke the look of bleached-out trees and ghostly forms.
This is a uniquely collaborative project with Vicuña working alongside artists, activists and members of the community. Some of the items used in the sculptures have been collected from the banks of the Thames by women from local Latin American communities.
Vicuña created the soundscape with Colombian composer Ricardo Gallo. It brings together Indigenous music from around the world, Vicuña’s own voice and music from fellow artists, alongside field recordings of nature and moments of silence. On digital screens, Vicuña presents a collection of videos by Indigenous activists and land defenders seeking justice for their people and our planet.
‘The Earth is a brain forest, and the quipu embraces all its interconnections,’ Vicuña says.
Through this installation, the artist asks visitors to think about the destruction of our forests, the impact of climate change, violence against Indigenous people, and how we can come together to make change and begin a process of repair.