Cecilia Vicuña’s Saborami came to our doorstep on a magic feather.  It was serendipitous fortune, because we are admirers of Chilean literature, and will never forget the horrible injustice of the US led coup against Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1973; plus Saborami achieves our dream of making a multi-text, psychic art collage, poetic manifesto.

The 2011 version of Saborami is an enhanced reissue of the text that came out in 1973, just three months after the coup in Chile.  It includes the original Spanish with English translation, collage, found art, newspaper clippings, dream, paintings, poem, pieces of nature and journal entries – making up a remarkable testimony.  Saborami is profound evidence from a history of oppression, and it stimulates on several levels: visually, psychologically, physically, emotionally, philosophically – and if it could play sound and give us taste and smell, it surely would.

Vicuña introduces the book:


In June 1973 the C.I.A. and the Chilean right wing, together with the Army were openly conspiring to overthrow the Popular Unity government.  I decided to make an object every day in support of the chilean revolutionary process. 
            After the coup d’etat and Allendes’ assassination the objects changed.
            In the beginning I wanted to prevent the coup, now the objects intend to support armed struggle against the reactionary government.
The objects try to kill three birds with one stone: politically, magically and aesthetically.
            I conceived them as a journal.  Each day is an object (a chapter) all days make a novel.
I didn’t want to make it with many words since there is hardly any time left to live.

That last line, “I didn’t want to make it with many words since there is hardly any time left to live,” wets our eyes and evokes the sense of urgency to make art that transcends the pages of a book, an urgency which is present throughout Saborami.  Vicuña says, “people who are aware of their own death are more likely to be revolutionaries.”

Saborami is a diary of hope for revolution, as well as of dread and protest for the announced and attempted coup, a cry of despair for loss of life, and redemption thru re-membrance.  It’s a heart wrenching, yet inspiring chronicle of the 1973 Chilean experience.  Vicuña sees the wastefulness of war with such clarity, “With the coup we lost the memory of who we were.  Violence was done to our bodies, our language, our self image.  Terror reigned and thousands died, many thousands tortured and many thousands more were forced into exile.  Total censorship ruled while unarmed civilians and opponents were bing killed.  But the massacre was justified by a web of lies.  Lies that have never been lifted.  The dictatorship lasted 17 years.  (160).”   It is baffling to think that so much torture and murder was committed by the United States government against Chilean citizens, just because Chile voted for a socialist society in which this dream could have surged:


Latin America should never become like Europe or the u.s.

Chile could be the first happy country in the world, a way of being constantly affectionate would grow from innocence and neolithic ecstasy (reappearing).  Suicide wouldn’t exist.  Socialism would achieve a cosmic consciousness, the sum of the wisdom of pre-Columbian Indians and of the many wisdoms of other places.  Socialism in Latinamerica would give birth to a culture in which “thinking with the belly” would reveal so much more than “thinking with the head.”  Thought, perception would grow with increasing joy.  There would be much dancing, much music, much friendship.  Socialism in Chile could give birth to a joyful way of living! 


"Revolutionary violence is a nail hammered on a banana leaf. A rough movement to capture the delicate, an haiku or a leap of Tai chi."

Through despair, Vicuña reiterates the need to be joyous.  Being present in the moment, honed into intuition and music, able to concentrate and see art in every day moments, are essential to forming a new society, according to Vicuña.

Saborami includes a series of electrifying journal entries in which Vicuña talks about one of her art installations, where she and her family and friends filled a museum with autumn leaves:

this piece has no concern for the future.  it evolves within the present, the absolute joy of an instant can’t be perpetuated, any attempt to do so will kill this joy, that’s why i used such perishable things as autumn leaves. 

Vicuña declares that art should be done by everyone.  Art should evolve out of the present moment, with little concern for the future.  We can get turned on by reality, seeing the miracles all around us.  And when we worship our lives and our world, we are more likely to cry out when the preciousness is endangered by violence.

Those of us who are closest to the materials are more likely to speak out in defense for them.  Those of us closest to nature are the ones who want to protect the earth.  Vicuña says, “the workers are the avant-garde in defending the ecological balance, natural resources & fighting pollution.”  We take pride in our roles of kind protectors and alive artists.

“A decal from chile: revolutionary feminism shall give birth to a different relationship between men & women; neither power nor dependence nor oppression; the meeting of two complete universes.”

Saborami is an extremely powerful, important piece of art text and history.  It gives readers a visceral way of experiencing art and poem through the scope of several decades worth of memory, dream and hope, in the midst of horrific cold war attacks on life.  Cecilia Vicuña is a courageous hero and a visionary flower of now and always.

Saborami by Cecilia Vicuña, ChainLinks 2011