Santiago Reyes Villaveces


09.14 –

Santiago Reyes Villaveces (b. 1986, Colombia) builds on the idea navigates the liminal space between treasure and exploitation, weaving a poetic narrative that transcends traditional forms of knowledge. The term "guaca" – a treasure, sacred place, or repository of collective memory – originates from the indigenous cultures of pre-Columbian America, particularly the Andean region. The allure of guacas fuelled the colonial expeditions, igniting a relentless pursuit of wealth and power that still reverberates in a constant desire to find wealth. Guacas, enigmatic and powerful, possess the ability to bring fortune or disgrace. They are hidden, buried, preserved, and reveal themselves in mysterious ways. 

As the climate crisis augments and the unsustainability of our economic model becomes evident, humanity's gaze turns skyward, the colonial desires overspill into outer spaces seeking a new guaca in the cosmos that promises wealth for some and the possibility of becoming a multiplanetary species. Yet, the essence of guacas transcends material wealth, embodying spiritual significance, cultural heritage, and the sacred relationship between humans and the natural and supernatural realms. They are repositories of collective memory and cultural identity, preserving ancestral traditions, myths, and histories passed down through generations. Moreover, guacas are intertwined with environmental stewardship, as indigenous communities often consider natural landscapes, such as mountains, rivers, or forests, as sacred and protected spaces. These areas embody ecological balance and the well-being of both human and non-human entities, prioritizing the preservation of the natural world. Guaca is an exploration of power, memory, and fiction, a poignant reminder of the complex interplay between the past and the present, the terrestrial and the celestial, and the material and the spiritual. Through his work, Santiago Reyes Villaveces invites us to engage critically with the power systems that shape our world, and to contemplate the enduring legacy of guacas as symbols of resilience, cultural preservation, and environmental stewardship.

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