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Art, Poetry, and Testimonio in Cecilia Vicuña’s Saborami (1973)

Juliet Lynd, Ana Roncero-Bellido

Abstract


Saborami (1973) is the first book published by Chilean poet-artist Cecilia Vicuña (b. 1947) and one of the first artistic denunciations of the violence of the September 11, 1973 military coup d’état in Chile. This understudied work of the Chilean neo avant-garde was first published in a bilingual Spanish-English edition with Beau Geste Press, one of the most influential independent presses for the publication, printing and duplicating of experimental art in the 1970s. This first artisanal edition of 250 copies was constructed
from recycled paper and gathered several of the art projects Vicuña had been working on in the years prior to the coup, pairing them with poetic reflections on the politics of her art. Saborami is a dense, complex, multi-tonal work composed of –among other things– found objects, personal letters, ironic and non-ironic self-portraits of the artist in suggestive positions, mimeographed images of various types, duplications of the author’s earlier paintings, and a collection of erotic poems that were slated to be published during the last years of the Allende regime but were apparently censored for their explicit sexuality. Co-authors Lynd and Roncero-Bellido position this work at the crossroads
between testimonio and vanguard art, then proceed to examine Vicuña’s aesthetically innovative contribution to the testimonial genre. Recent new editions of Saborami, the authors argue, demonstrate the need for a scholarly discourse that takes seriously the role of 1960s and 1970s experimental art as an important manifestation of oppositional discourses.

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