What do we do with your history?
"A nation without its history is like a person without his memory..." (Arthur Schlesinger)

So what do we do with our History?

How do we interact with our historical objects? How do we fit them into our daily lives?

This project explores the different modalities of the portrait and analyzes its historical relevance. An artistic genre that responds to the natural aspiration of man to perpetuate his appearance, to transcend, either as a symbol of authority, family, social memory or identity sign. The deconstruction of the iconic image of the huaco mochica portrait (precedent of the representation of the human face in ancient Peru) and its subsequent reconstruction through references, generates new iconographies with their respective meanings and signifiers of the current Peruvian. Culture transcends through us, if remains static it disappears. By appropriating the signs of history and adapting it to our daily lives we make it our own. It lives with us and, therefore, transcends and we transcend. “So what do we do with our History?” brings us closer to the reflection of the different functions that human representation has fulfilled - and keeps fulfilling - always closely linked to the concept of identity and collective-historical memory.

My sensorial landscape for the last decade has been informed, in great part, by Peruvian traditional cultural values and aesthetics. My intention is to create new iconography in order to bring Peruvian history into modern consciousness.

After an artist residency at the Larco Museum in Lima I was inspired by their collection of the huaco-portrait ceramics of the Mochica Culture. For this visual investigation I used various manual and digital techniques, using local and foreign references, ancient and contemporary. Photography, photographic collage, video art projected on object, sculptures in metal, sculptures in clay and resin and installation were the chosen techniques.

Ana De Orbegoso
2017
Curatorial text

So what do we do with our history?

Our huaco faces, all of them, transcending time. For that reason, today they are excited, they smile, they are amazed, they question themselves ... Are we these faces, those, the others? Have we embraced the mud of these faces modeled by hands from these same lands centuries ago? Or do we want to recover our reflection in the mirror shine of gold, silver and copper? You invite us, Ana, to the embrace and the reflection. To the smile, to the amazement and to the question.

Are we continuing to build shelves and shelves where we will place our beauty, detained and unknown, until it is (dis)covered by another authorized look, that qualifies, classifies, orders and exposes us? Have we emerged from the tombs to remain dead?

I look at you, I look at myself, I surrender to your gaze and I recover myself in a millennial container-head that expresses the historical creative mastery, with which, Ana, you have conversed. You have caressed those anonymous faces wishing that they were yours, and ours. And so from your desire and your look, you have created them, without recreating them.

Then, the portrait, my portrait, your portrait, their portrait, become deep mirrors, where there will always be a shadow that is ours. A collective shadow that scares us and summons us, that appears to be recognized and named when the creative light manages to illuminate it. A real contrast appears, vital, powerful, and necessary. And that is when our textures, our brightness, our colors, our expressions, our stories, begin to (co)habit.

Ulla Holmquist
Archaeologist
Curator of Pre-Columbian Art