Chüüyü Wülach | Meseta de Somuncurá
From 9/8/2021 to 11/4/2021
El Obrador: Bartolomé Mitre, 1670, Buenos Aires [AR]
Artists: Campo Abierto (Alessio de Gottardi, Emanuel Hohl, Manuel Jäggi, Matthias Müller Klug, Milo Schwager)
Coordination: María Emilia Marroquín
Organised by: El Obrador and Casa Matienzo
In Somuncurá, an extensive plateau in Argentine Patagonia, the wind blows whistles through the stones. Running alongside the hills, these long, howling sounds carry ancient traditions and collective memories, but also silenced voices, unspoken stories, and a history of territorial conflicts and social disputes.
Somuncurá (which in the Günün a yajüch language means “sonorous stones”) is home to the Günün a küna people. Like many other local communities, they have been silenced for several years and recently started a process of visibilisation and official recognition. This aim also underlines «Chüüyü Wülach | Meseta de Somuncurá» exhibition, a collaboration between the Campo Abierto interdisciplinary collective [CH] and El Obrador Creative Centre [AR].
Composed of four nuclei, called camaras, the show reconstructs through various media (photos, audiovisual material, sounds, performances, and testimonies) the Günün a küna’s history and cosmologies, thus generating a space of memory, political reflection, and sensitive connection around the communities and the rural territory.
The contact of Campo Abierto and the Somuncurá plateau goes back, in a way, to the group’s formation. In 2018, Alessio De Gottardi, one of the members, and a friend discovered during a trip that Swiss naturalist Jorge Claraz travelled the region in the mid-19th century, following local tribes in their nomadic way of life. Today, the notes he kept in a book are one of the few sources of information on the Günün a küna people.
Much has changed in the area, and a series of new settlers forced the local community to change their habits. The Swiss collective was then created to raise awareness of such issues, to the transformation of territories due to colonization and globalization, and to think of their creation as an open space (a “campo abierto”), which is also reflected in its interdisciplinary composition: Alessio, Matthias Müller Klug (both architects), Emanuel Hohl (filmmaker), Milo Schwager (set designer), and Manuel Jäggi (sociologist-geographer).
For the works presented in «Chüüyü Wülach | Meseta de Somuncurá», they searched for a link between a stormy past and a yet uncertain future.
In the framework of the exhibition, a series of performances, as well as talks by community authorities and Indigenous Peoples’ representatives, were also scheduled. Some of the participants were Daniel Huircapan (writer and translator from the Günün a küna people), Ángela Jaramillo (lawyer, from the Kolla people), Marcelo Lezcano (lawyer from the Kolla people “Los Airampos”), and Pilar Pérez (researcher and lecturer). The panels tackle on issues related to land, Indigenous rights, and language, in an attempt to make “the old voices of the wind” heard again.
Campo Abierto is an interdisciplinary practice based in Switzerland that investigates phenomena and processes of transformation of contemporary territories focusing on the mechanisms of colonization and globalization. Their projects are based on the continuity between research, filmmaking and design, where all of these modes of intellectual production are overlapping and reinforcing one another. They approach and get to know the communities in order to receive their way of habitation, materials, traditional techniques, vernacular forms and economic structures to take decisions in a more amiable, respectful and harmonic manner concerning the natural, historic and social environment they enter. They report on it, designing works and small interventions on site which meet with these particularities and encourage the inhabitants of their ability to implement new networks of microeconomies. They create spaces for integration, awareness and political reflection around communities and their territory to contribute to economic and cultural independence.
El Obrador is a multidisciplinary creative centre that disseminates and promotes artistic expressions and cultural activities linked to work and social transformation. Located in the centre of Buenos Aires, it has three exhibition halls, an auditorium, recording rooms, a radio studio and a multipurpose room for workshops and activities. It opened in 2019 and has hosted more than ten art exhibitions, various institutional events, cultural talks and musical proposals, among others.