"A human being, a living being, a stone – apparently inanimate – belongs to a place and has a ngen / a spirit. This ngen belongs to a space as much as the human being does, and as they both share it there is therefore a relationship of reciprocity, of interdependence. Hence the totality without exclusion and without fragmentation.”

Blue banners transform our experience of entering the colonial neo-classical facade of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Taken from the book Of blue dreams and counterdreams by Mapuche poet Elicura Chihuailaf Nahuelpán, the powerful message on these banners radiates with a colour that refers to ‘the blue’ (Kallfv epew or Kalfü epeu) – a significant colour in Mapuche culture that Chihuailaf Nahuelpán frequently employs in his work to refer to a deep and infinite cosmic origin.

Chihuaiaf Nahuelpán’s gentle words hold urgent messages for the world – they remind us of the eternal in the present. His message is clear: we should all be vigilant in the care of nature, spirit and each other. For Chihuailaf Nahuelpán, it is critical that the Mapuche language is translated into as many languages as possible, so that his messages can be shared and a way of life that embodies a balanced view of both the spiritual and physical worlds can be communicated.


  • Title: Machiluwvn / Iniciación / Initiation
  • Creator: Elicura Chihuailaf Nahuelpán
  • Date Created: 2020
  • Location Created: Art Gallery of New South Wales
  • Physical Dimensions: dimensions variable
  • Provenance: Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with assistance from NIRIN 500 patrons. Courtesy the artist.
  • Type: installation
  • Rights: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: text on vinyl
  • Edition: 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020): NIRIN, 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020): NIRIN

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