An Affective Community
We think of ourselves as an affective constellation. We have self-identified as a community since we have lived all together throughout various moments of our lives. We combine life with art, and we like to imagine that they are intertwined and that we are as well. We insist upon being a community. Our ways of relating come from poyewün (affection) as a political provocation that explores different languages to communicate and create networks of reciprocity through art. We decided to call ourselves a community since the word “collective” does not fit in with our practice, which is not solely artistic. It is also a provocation that we aim as much at the traditional Mapuche world as at the Chilean world since we are a community of “non-heterosexual” indigenous people, where gay, lesbian, trans, queer, and non-binary experiences are political practices.
Weavers, Not Visual Artists
The reasons behind seeing ourselves as weavers and not as visual artists have to do with our need to abandon the category of “contemporary art” / ”visual art” as the purpose of our work. Our work passes through the art world, where we have gotten to know amazing people and communities, but their vital potential does not end there. So, we shift the purpose of our work, since we have also borne the brunt of neoliberal and multicultural harassment in the art world, specifically when others try to deny or placate our existence. This is the political work of weaving: choosing between that which remains visible and that which remains invisible. Weaving is thus also understanding the interrelationship between things and people, so the word “weaving” allows us to frame our video essay, editorial work, speculative writing, performative-ceremonial actions, and our practice of Mapuche witral (ancestral weaving) as a constant flow of experimentation with the mapu (land) or, as the kimche (wise elder) Juan Ñanculef would say, with the materia (material).
Epupillan: Free Souls
We have learned from the experiences of Mapuche activists and from other indigenous nations. They have protected knowledge about the epupillan for a long time, because from their own sovereign territories that is how people transitioning between the masculine and feminine were thus designated. It has been a way of keeping the memory of our ancestors alive, who were harshly repressed and condemned under the category of “nefarious sinners” or “sodomites.” In the history of colonialism, that is how people who relate in ways that are different from heteronormativity have been described. Epupillan is a way of calling people who in the present may be sexually dissident. But the usefulness of epupillan is that it is not solely limited to a sexual category, although we do not deny that many epupillan people also identify as being part of the LGBQTI+ spectrum. So, we cannot separate our sexuality and our pleasure from the land we inhabit. That is the political potential of epupillan that we claim. In the Mapuche community, few people want to talk about this because there is a lot of discrimination, but in recent years there has been a veritable surge of people who are retrieving these epupillan memories.