The Selknam, an extinct aborigine tribe of Tierra del Fuego, is the inspiration for Elisa Pritzker’s installation at the HVCCA. Over ten years ago when Pritzker visited Patagonia, she felt an urgency to discover the people who had lived in Tierra del Fuego “before all the tourists came, speaking all different languages, from many cultures,” except for that of the Selknam, whose voices were gone.
Pritzker has created an installation that honors the tribe, gathered into reservations in the 1940’s and eradicated by diseases and cultures not their own. She began an in-depth study of the Selknam Tribe, using source materials from anthropologists and photographers, among them Anne Chapman. In the 1950’s and 1960’s Chapman documented the Selknam’s unique culture and recorded their language and chants. Chapman was cured of a life threatening ailment by Lola Kiepkja, the last Selknam shaman alive. After intensive research, Pritzker realized how much the ancient cultures and traditions had to teach and her solo show at HVCCA brings the viewer – stone by stone – into the Selknam realm.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.