Portable Beautifiers
 Image: 35mm print, on archival paper, 50’ x 33’  CHOLO – CHOLA (2019) is a site specific installation located on a broken up sand dune 105KM south of Lima.  This work uses language as a mirror, confronting the viewer with words that can carry multiple meanings that encapsulate discrimination and division, as well as pride and empowerment, but that also act as a reminder to Peruvians of the Racist undertones present in our society.  With this in mind, the words Cholo and Chola have been drawn with 10 meter tall x 6 meter wide letters in the middle of the deserted Peruvian coast, on the sides of a road that is mostly used during the summer months (January - March), in a location known and accused of racist and discriminatory practices within its protected and fenced off communities: the private beaches of the Asia district, which extends for about 15 - 20 kilometers along the Pacific Ocean.  The origin of the word Cholo is attributed to various sources. It first appeared written in the Peruvian book Royal Commentaries of the Incas by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, published in 1609 and 1616. He writes (in Spanish) "The child of a Black male and an Indian female, or of an Indian male and Black female, they call mulato and mulata. The children of these they call cholos”. This is where its current most common meaning stems from (in a diluted and derogatory way): a person born from parents with multiple heritages. Another explanation of its origin is that it comes from the Mochica tongue, which existed on the northern coast of Peru, where the term cholu meant ‘young man’. Historian Maria Rostworowski believes the first Spanish colonizers to arrive in Peru came through the Northern coast, where they picked up this word, which she believes was originally used to call young men cholu, and that later mutated to cholo. Nowadays in Peru, depending on the context, any person can be considered or called a cholo/chola (of mixed heritage). As long as they've been born in the country.  These words have long been used to discriminate and create division. However, in contemporary Peru, they have morphed and taken new meanings. Nowadays these words are also employed to convey endearment, pride and empowerment. Works by Peruvian artist Chermany, who uses the word ‘Cholo’ to convey pride - also available in hats and t-shirts - or Bolivian architect Freddy Mamani’s(Arquitectura Andina) ‘Cholet’ (referencing the words Cholo and Chalet) buildings in El Alto, Bolivia also come to mind as a further examples of their application within more positive contexts.  The artificially broken up sand dunes also add an extra layer of conflict to the work. Traditionally, these 'mountain drawings’, normally used for political propaganda on the barren hills surrounding Lima, tend to exist on the East side of the highway, and never on any of the hills or dunes on the West side of it. Not a coincidence by any means. The Panamerican highway, especially along the stretch between kilometers 90 - 110 has served as a physical barrier to divide communities by class. Generally, to the West of it we find beach houses valued in the millions of US dollars within exclusive ‘members only’ communities striving for homogeneity, aiming not to raise attention to themselves. To the East of it, we can generally find the homes of those who serve those within these gated communities, and who in some instances are not even allowed to use the beaches where these ‘exclusive’ coastal homes are located.  The scale of the letters on the sand dunes does not do justice to the size of the elephant in the room: The fact that on a daily basis Peruvians are comfortable using these words in positive terms, as well as a brutal weapon.  CHOLO - CHOLA aims to address Racism and how we use language to perpetuate it. The fact that the words Cholo and Chola have entered our discourse in ‘lighter’ forms, begs us to ask why it is that we somehow feel empowered to use these words to convey positive feelings, when they can also be the source of intense aggressions and micro-aggressions. More so, this piece also questions whether this is even the right term for us to embrace as a signifier of national unity and strength considering the weight it carries. The jury is still out on this.  Speaking up and addressing things head on, as painful as it may be, can give us the opportunity to heal deep wounds. The various Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (and in some cases museums and places of memory) established around the world, like the ones in Peru, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador and many others, are perhaps the best proof of this. This work was conceived to spark a broader discussion about Peru’s racist and discriminatory past and present through the dialogues, tensions and moments of self-awareness the piece may be responsible for creating.  Ultimately, the chalk used to fill in the words drawn on these sand dunes will be blown away by the desert winds, making them disappear. We can only hope this will also be the fate of normalized racism.
 Amor Humano is a body of work that explores the issue of violence against women using femicide cases in Peru (the artists place of birth) as a starting point, as well as the sounds, rituals and aesthetics that are present in the Huayno culture, a genre of music from the Andean region of Peru and Bolivia.  On August 3, 2017, Iván Sikic (Lima, 1983) carried out a collaborative action in the Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) Cemetery, located in Villa Maria del Triunfo, in Lima, Peru.  One part ritual, one part performance and one part procession, the work was carried out by 5 female dancers, a local Huayno orchestra made up of 7 musicians and a Master of Ceremony who walked alongside the musicians and dancers while these made their way through the cemetery to the tune of the ‘Tunantada’, while the dancers wore traditional outfits that were complemented by embossed hand embroidered capes designed by the artist, in collaboration with local artisans.  This procession, and its many elements that were a part of it, was a homage to those who have suffered or lost their lives for the sole reason of having been born women.  Each one of the 5 capes worn by the dancers, carry with them the dates, cities and names of women (taken from local newspaper clippings) who were murdered at the hands of their lovers. At the same time, the Master of Ceremony who joined the procession, read out the names of 150 women from all over the world who have also died as a consequence to this type of violence.
Honoring the Treaties
The Gold Series: Madrid Chapter
The Gold Series: Burrinja Chapter
From Dawn to Dawn
Tiempo Tropical
Safe Conduct