January 23, 2009 - Americas Society - Moon Tears: Mapuche Art and Cosmology
January 23, 2009

Moon Tears: Mapuche Art and Cosmology

Kollog, wooden mask
Domeyko Cassel Collection

Moon Tears: Mapuche Art and Cosmology
from the Domeyko Cassel Collection, Santiago, Chile

January 28 – April 11, 2009

Opening January 28th at 7:30 p.m.

680 Park Avenue at 68th Street
Gallery hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.


Americas Society’s upcoming exhibition, Moon Tears: Mapuche Art and Cosmology examines an indigenous group barely known outside of South America. Gathering a number of important artifacts and curated by a predominant expert in the field, the exhibition showcases Mapuche silverware, drums, textiles, and masks as means to explore the Mapuche social and religious worldview.

Guest Curator Thomas D. Dillehay, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University, is a renowned academic and archeological figure whose multifaceted study of the Mapuche guides the exhibition.

Bringing the Domeyko Cassel Collection to the United States for the first time, the exhibition uses a visual narrative to provoke deeper understanding of the Mapuche, descendents of the Araucanians. The Mapuche are the largest indigenous group in southern South America, known for successfully resisting European intrusion longer than any indigenous society in American history, until the Chilean army defeated them in the mid-1890s. The survival of the Mapuche today is strongly tied to their religion, ancestral knowledge, healing practices, and sacred places. Key to their religious views is the idea of a continuous relationship between ancestors and the living.

The objects on display reveal the sophisticated cosmology and social organization of the Mapuche. More than just static objects of a bygone era, they are the material and artistic representation of the Mapuche conceptions of resistance, public ceremony, gender, shamanism, and their social and historical landscapes.

The exhibition is divided into three themes exploring the links between the Mapuche’s traditions and present day life: religion and cosmological vision, interactions with and resistance to outsiders, and relations with Chilean society today.

Shaman drums, an ascending ladder, and ponchos are among the objects that provide insight into how community rituals form and support Mapuche cosmology. Rather than reducing the objects to mere artifacts, the exhibition instead places them within their spiritual context. Many objects in the collection reflect directly on the core of Mapuche cosmology and religion, focusing on practices that link the living with their ancestors and major deities. The exhibition will also feature a “Rewe” [sacred ladders used by Mapuche shamans] from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and two documentaries: Wichan [The Trial] by Maga Meneses (1994- 1995) and Punalka, el alto Biobio [Punalka, the upper Biobio] by Jeanette Paillán (1995).

A publication will accompany the exhibition, as well as a series of public programs including contributions by major scholars in the field of Mapuche studies.

Four Corners of the Universe: Curatorial Lecture by Dr. Thomas D. Dillehay

Wednesday, January 28, 6:30 p.m.
Americas Society. 680 Park Ave, New York, NY
Professor Dillehay will discuss his curatorial methodology and his archeological and anthropological studies of Latin America’s indigenous peoples and the Mapuche.
Exhibition Opening Reception to follow at 7:30 p.m.

Gallery Walk-through with Jacqueline Domeyko
Saturday, January 31, 1 p.m.
Americas Society. 680 Park Ave, New York, NY
The Director of the Domeyko Cassel collection will give a tour of the exhibition and share her experiences working with the Mapuche community.

Wallmapu. Our Territory, Our Stories
Thursday, February 19, 6:30 p.m.
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Auditorium George Gustav Heye Center. One Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004.
Speakers: Jeanette Paillán (filmmaker) and Luis Cárcamo-Huechante (Assistant Professor Harvard University). Introduced by Gabriela Rangel (Director, Visual Arts Americas Society) and moderated by Amalia Córdova (Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian)
Join us for a screening of clips of a historical documentary that tells the story of the Wallmapu territory from the Mapuche perspective. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Jeanette Paillán and Luis E. Cárcamo- Huechante.

Americas Society
680 Park Avenue at 68th Street
Gallery hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
All events are free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible
For more information, please email culture@americas-society.org or call 212.277.8359, ext. 3

Americas Society

Americas Society
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