Bernardo Oyarzún has been selected to represent Chile at the 57th Venice Biennale 2017 with an exhibition curated by Ticio Escobar. According to The National Council of Culture and Arts Chile, Oyarzún’s project, titled “Werken,” centres on the theme of the current representation of Chile’s indigenous Mapuche people.
Continuing his ongoing practice of using a combination social, historical, and anthropological elements to critique Chilean culture and society, Oyarzún’s project will feature a central installation of more than 1,500 traditional ceremonial Mapuche masks, forming a figure of irregular contours spanning 10 x 11 meters. The walls of the room will feature red LED scroll signs displaying 6,907 Mapuche surnames.
Mr. Ernesto Ottone, Minister of Culture of Chile, said: “We are extremely happy with the decision made by the jury. I have admired the work of Bernardo Oyarzún for many years and am very excited about this project. Oyarzun explores the relationship between contemporary art and indigenous peoples, and I think this project will offer an important insight into the subject.”
Commenting on the project, Bernardo Oyarzún said: “The mask is a game of representation and every gesture is significant. These are like the masks of Greek theatre: some have strong expressions and others, softer. They are theatrical. This project will create a dialogue that will depend on each spectator. Viewers will feel the weight of the phantasmagoric imaginary.”