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touch them and each one has a story. Each one recalls an instance; each one recalls the time of its creation. Although I created the installation here in 1987, I found most of the objects in 1984 or 1985. I was living in New York and it was very difficult for me. I was bringing a lot of debris from Chile, transporting debris across borders. So I started to combine the debris from New York and Brooklyn and Chile. Everywhere I went we created a sort of palimpsest of debris from all of the places I had visited. For example, one of the pieces that survived at the Blanton is from a beach in Chile. There’s a lot of debris from dead birds in that area. You see less and less birds and more and more plastic on the beaches of Chile. I remember when I collected those pieces. At that time, the beach was entirely undeveloped, like it was when I was a girl. Now it’s entirely built up. It’s amazing the degradation of the landscape in Chile over the last half century. TO: These are pieces that were created in the mid-to-late 1980s, when we were still in the Cold War and living under the Reagan administration. I want to say so much has changed, but I don’t know. Now we are living under another conservative administration and the precariousness that felt exemplary of the Cold War has been substituted for a very different kind of insecurity. CV: One of the pieces I created here is a clear reference to the Twin TowersI live at the foot of the towers. I went down to the storeroom of the Blanton Museum and found these fragments of venetian blinds. They immediately reminded me of something that I wrote after September 11, 2001. A Chilean newspaper had asked me to write a testimony about the attack. I wrote that the reaction to the attack was even worse than the attack, because as Gandhi has said, “An eye for an eye and the world will be blind.” For me, these blinds are a perfect metaphor for what the U.S. citizens have chosen. And this choice is very dangerous for the whole world. I think that everybody in the world felt that it was not just the American people who were under threat, it was the world itself. But it is not because of the attack by terrorists, the world itself is in danger because of its unwillingness to see the reality of inequality, the reality of pain. SB: In the United States, we don’t have a relationship to ruins like other cultures do. In the case of the World Trade Center, it occurs to me that they took those ruins down and cleared them away at an amazing speed. And that site is totally sanitized now. CV: It is denial. It’s denial of death. It’s denial of pain. It’s denial of who we are. This is why I work a lot with water because you cannot deny your own process. Being human is becoming debris. We are here so briefly. And we don’t wish to see what we are leaving behind: We are leaving all this garbage, all of this dirty water. The Texas coast, for example, is becoming a dead ocean because people are unwilling to recognize the process of water pollution. Debris is also a metaphor for being human: You live to let someone else come and live and die. The human chain is unbroken. It goes as far as we can possibly imagine and it will go as far as we are willing to let it go. But, if we don’t want to think about it, it will come to an end very soon. SB: It seems that we are more precarious than we were in the late ’80s. CV: Certainly, because this unwillingness to see is becoming more powerful. In this upcoming election we will really get to see where the American people are. The perception of people outside of the United States is that the American people don’t want to see reality. It is patriotic to ask: Why is this happening? What happened to American democracy and the will of people to question? continued on page 28 Continuing the performance, she wraps the string around the crowd that has gathered on the banks, then throws the thread into the creek 5/21/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25