Chapter Two

Purgatorio

 

English subtitles available by clicking CC

 
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A poet known both globally and in his native Chile as one of the most important figures in the language

arts through works such as “Purgatorio” (Purgatory) (1979) and “Anteparaíso” (Anteparadise)

(1982). He was detained and tortured during the 1973 military coup in Chile and was later released, but

under the condition that he could not enter into any bookstore, the result of which allowed him to see

“Purgatorio” only through the store’s windows.

 

He was a member of the artist’s collective C.A.D.A., together with visual artists Lotty Rosenfeld and Juan Castillo, writer Diamela Eltit and sociologist Fernando Bacells. His works have taken the word to visuality with actions through land art-based works including, “La vida nueva” (The new life) one of his most renowned works and from which 15 verses of the same poem were presented in the sky above New York through the airplane generated sky-writing technique in 1982 and documented by artist Juan Downey.

 
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In 1993, using bulldozers, he carved a three-kilometre-long poem in the desert, south of Antofagasta at precisely the coordinates 24°2'49"S 70°26'43"W, titled “Ni Pena ni Miedo” (Neither Grief nor Fear), inscribed as one of his works or as a big dream carried out in the sand. These interventions in landscapes, that according to Zurita have been nobler than people themselves, are a way of reading and understanding our destinies and the places where we can find signals.

 

Interventions in landscapes, that according to Zurita are a way of reading and understanding our destinies and the places where we can find signals

 
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Among his most important distinctions are the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984, the National Award for Literature in 2000 and the Pablo Neruda Ibero-American Poetry Award.

In the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016, he presented the poem-installation “Sea of Pain”, in which he paid homage to the victims and refugees of the crisis in Syria and to Alan Kourdi, the three-year-old boy that was found dead on a beach in Turkey.

 

One of his most renowned works is “La vida nueva” where 15 verses of the same poem were presented in the sky above New York

 

Images courtesy of the artist