Pica Pica

Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany
1 September - 28 October 2018

Pica Pica, refers to a legend that occurred under a Lagunaria patersonia tree in Venezuela (a tree colloquially referred to as the Pica Pica tree, Spanish for ‘itchy itchy’, due to its irritating seeds). The legend tells of a shepherd named José Zambrano who falls ill and lies down in the tree’s shade to die. Another shepherd, who had just lost his cattle, sees him and surrounds his corpse with branches. He promises him a proper burial if he finds his herd. After he succeeds in finding it, he returns to keep his word. Up to today, it is believed that the Pica Pica tree with Zambrano’s resting soul is a site of granted miracles. Pica Pica became a saint-like figure of devotion, and the tree a popular place of pilgrimage, where people bring so called Milagritos (Spanish for ‘little miracles’) in return: small, often self-made object-like representations of their wishes in form of a hand, a house, or a car.

At the Kunstverein Sol Calero takes her personal memories of a chapel dedicated to José Zambrano – El Ánima de Pica Pica as the point of departure for a new body of work. The chapel was located on the way to her grandmother’s house in the Venezuelan countryside. To be granted a safe journey, one had to stop and pay respects. The interior of the chapel was full of Milagritos offered by devotees. In reference to her own memories, Calero turns the exhibition space of the Kunstverein into a utopian Pica Pica house and invites visitors to participate by creating their own representations of wishes and desires.

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Photos by Katja Illner