About to Happen

Cecilia Vicuña

Essays by Andrea Andersson, Lucy Lippard and Macarena Gómez-Barris and an interview by Julia Bryan-Wilson

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paper, 8 × 8 in.
160 pages, all color
second edition

PDF Press Release

Beginning and ending at the edge of the ocean at the sacred mouth of the Aconcagua River, About to Happen serves as a lament as well as love letter to the sea. In this artist’s book, Chilean-born artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña weaves personal and ancestral memory while summoning the collective power to confront the economic disparities and environmental crises of the 21st century.

Collecting the detritus that washes up on shore, Vicuña assembles out of the refuse tiny precarios and basuritas—little sculptures held together with nothing more than string and wire, which she sometimes makes as offerings to be reclaimed by the sea. These acts of creation and erasure mirror the ways in which her work inhabits and enlivens the liminal spaces between the remembered and forgotten, the revered and the discarded, the material and the dematerialized.

About to Happen traces a decades-long practice that has refused categorical distinctions and thrived within the confluences of conceptual art, land art, feminist art, performance and poetry. Vicuña’s nuanced visual poetics—operating fluidly between concept and craft, text and textile—transforms the discarded into the elemental, paying acute attention to the displaced, the marginalized and the forgotten.

about the author

CECILIA VICUÑA (b. 1948, Santiago, Chile) is a poet, visual and performance artist, and filmmaker whose multi-disciplinary and multi-dimensional works bridge art and life, the ancestral and the avant-garde. Vicuña’s work emphasizes transformative acts and “metaphors in space”: an image becomes a poem, a film, a song, a sculpture or a collective performance. Beginning often with a delicate line (drawn or written) or a piece of string, she weaves complex works that are rich with political and social awareness as well as aesthetic beauty.

The author of more than a dozen volumes of poetry, her most recent books include New and Selected Poems, Spit Temple: Oral Performances of Cecilia Vicuña, Chanccani Quipu and Sabor a Mí. She also co-edited The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry and is the co-founder of oysi.org, a site for the oral cultures and poetries of the world.

Widely exhibited internationally, in addition to the inclusion of her work at Documenta 14 she was recently awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale (2022). Her solo show at the Guggenheim Museum Spin Spin Triangulene runs through September 5, 2022, and an installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern opens in October 2022.

This artist’s book was originally copublished with the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans where the eponymous exhibition first took place, curated by Andrea Andersson, before traveling to the Berkeley Art Museum, ICA in Philadelphia, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami. This is a second, revised edition.

see also


Floating Between Past and FutureThe Indigenization of Environmental Politics

Lucy Lippard


Rock of EyeTroy Montes-Michie

Essays by Andrea Andersson and Tina Campt, interview by Brent Hayes Edwards and afterword by Cameron Shaw


Becoming ImperceptibleAdam Pendleton

Essays by Andrea Andersson, Naomi Beckwith, Kitty Scott and Stephen Squibb


Hinge PicturesEight Women Artists Occupy the Third DimensionAndrea Andersson (editor)

Works by Sarah Crowner, Julia Dault, Leslie Hewitt, Tomashi Jackson, Erin Shirreff, Ulla Von Brandenburg, Adriana Varejão and Claudia Weiser, and essays by Andrea Andersson and Alex Klein

✼ elsewhere:

“In my opinion, genre is a way of speaking about conventions of reading and looking, where you sit or stand and whether you’re allowed to talk to other people or move around while you’re communing with an object or text.”  —Lucy Ives, from her interview with Karla Kelsey in Feminist Poetics of the Archive at Tupelo Quarterly


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