Angelika Markul / The glaciers’ memory / BIENALSUR – Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo de América del Sur, September – December 2017

This video installation is a documentary by Angelika Markul, Polish artist, made from footage filmed in the Perito Moreno Glacier. The video draws an analogy between the gradual depletion of these spaces and the persecution and extermination of the indigenous peoples of this region and America by European conquerors and the local elites.

Some of the original inhabitants of this territory; i.e., the Tehuelches from the steppe and the Yamanás and Onas from the south inspired Markul to make a series of sketches and drawings. Their attire, hairdo and rites are depicted in her drawings as a symbol of their cultural richness and diversity. The extinction of those peoples and the slow decay of the places they inhabited are brought together metaphorically in this video by laying emphasis on the hazards that result from neglecting the environment in present times.

By visiting and showing these sublime landscapes, Markul seeks to raise the spectators’ awareness of the current environmental situation with modesty, sensitivity and a poetic note. One of the strongest sources of inspiration of this project is Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, whose poem “Lands of Fire” (Slow Rain) deals with the search for spiritual renovation with Mother Earth and the sacred territory through the rain. On the one hand, she denounces the devastating effects of humankind on the environment. On the other hand, she looks for and encourages the contact between the community and nature. While rain is an aesthetic symbol for Mistral, the glaciers in Markul’s work represent the disappearance of humankind and call for a connection with Mother Earth.