In 2020 the filmmaker Francisco Huichaqueo took part in two exhibitions simultaneously; one in Germany as invited guest artist at the 11th Berlin Biennale and the other in Aotearoa (New Zealand), where a multi-film installation was shown in De-Celerate, a group exhibition at Te Tuhi gallery. Given the impossibility of travelling to either country due to the Covid19 pandemic, the artist collaborated remotely with curators and artists, sending his works with instructions on how they were to be installed.
In Kuifi ül / Ancient Sound, the filmmaker incorporated a sound element with the purpose of waking the objects plundered from the Mapuche people during the time of the Spanish colonization of their territories, on exhibit in the same exhibition hall on loan from the collections of German museums. The concept of waking, common to other indigenous knowledge systems—notably in Polynesia—engages with the state of interruption of energy that the objects suffer by being uprooted, given that in their worldview everything that exists is related and is sustained by this relationship.
The concept of film as medicine that Huichaqueo articulates in relation to his work fulfils the function of reparation in the colonial context in which his people continue to live. Firmly grounded in documentary and enhanced by high-impact experimental visuality, his cinematographic language pursues the creation of wellbeing in which light and sound act as healing elements.
Filmed during the beginning of the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, on the day of Wiñol tripantü, or Mapuche new year, in Kuifi ül the sound of the trutruka falls in love with the sound of the river along which a man rides on horseback. The vibration of this ancient wind instrument which can measure up to 6 metres long is very low, and therefore is known for its curative effects. The image of the young girl on the white horse evokes the ancient ceremony of the blue girl, in which a teenage girl commands a cavalry from the centre of a circle of riders.
Placing the emphasis on this ancient sound, the filmmaker makes use of the symbolic-historical force of the image as a visual vehicle so that its vibration helps to restore a lost order.
Francisco Huichaqueo – Biography
Francisco Huichaqueo (Chile, 1977) is a Mapuche visual artist and filmmaker and an academic at the Faculty of Humanities and Visual Arts of the University of Concepción. He graduated from the Faculty of Visual Arts at the University of Chile and also has an MA in documentary film from the same university as well as a specialization in optics from the Cuban film school. Expressed in video installation, documentary film and essay film formats, his visual work is based around themes that concern his Mapuche lineage. He also intervenes in colonial spaces with tangible and intangible heritage, such as archaeological collections in museums within Chile and abroad. Longing for the return of the indigenous heritage to the hands of his people in the near future, Huichaqueo plays with the spectral image of cinema under the codes of the Mapuche worldview to complement and accompany the objects of spiritual and ceremonial use, recording everyday life today. Among his most outstanding projects are: Wenu Pelon / Portal de luz, MAVI, Santiago de Chile, 2015-2021; Kuifi Ül / Ancient Sound, Gropius Bau Museum, Berlin Biennale, Germany, 2020; Chi Rütran Amulniei Ñi Nütram / Metal Continues to Speak, Pre-Columbian Museum of Santiago, 2016; Malon Wiño / The Silver Serpent, Matta Cultural Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2016; Kalül Trawün / Meeting of The Corps, MNBA, Santiago, 2011-2012.
Huichaqueo has exhibited at international film festivals such as ImagiNative in Toronto-Canada, Toulouse Latino Film Festival, National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, and the Human Resources Gallery in Los Angeles, among others. He has completed film and art residencies in Taiwan, France, and Colombia; and has lectured on First Nations cinema at NY University and Bernard Columbia in New York. His most critically acclaimed film work includes: Mencer ñi pewma, 2012; Ilwen / The Earth Smells of Father, 2013; Mujeres Espíritu, 2020.