For the 60th International Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia Stranieri Ovunque (Foregneirs Everywhere), artist Claudia Alarcón and art-collective Silät are presenting their reflections on being treated as foreigners in their own country.


Claudia Alarcón is an indigenous textile artist from the La Puntana community of Wichí people, who inhabit the Grand Chaco region that straddles the borders of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. Alongside her individual practice, she leads the Silät collective, an organisation of one hundred women weavers of different generations. Together, they continue the centuries-old tradition of weaving with hand-spun vegetal fibres from the native chaguar plant, a communal, female-led production. Working closely with curator Andrei Fernández, Alarcón and Silät explore the possibilities of artmaking within and beyond these traditions. The collective held their first UK exhibition at Cecilia Brunson Projects in October 2023, and are featured this year in the Venice Biennale.


Adriano Pedrosa’s exhibition for the Biennale, Stranieri Ovunque (Foreigners Everywhere), highlights artists located at the world’s margins, and those treated as a foreigner in their own country. Alarcón and Silät’s inclusion reflects the significance of their work as an experimental expression of contemporary indigenous culture and an important contribution to the art historical narrative of geometric abstraction in Latin America.

Claudia Alarcón’s writings about participating in the Venice Biennale: “I, along with the Silät group, was recently invited to exhibit at the Venice Biennale this year. I am aware that there are many artists who would die to be in that place, so being in this group is a pleasure because it is not only me but all the other women who have knowledge about weaving. It is true that I open possibilities to the other women, because for me it is more satisfactory that all the women are there. We all want to work; we all need it and it is true that every person interested in carrying out this task that we do has their place and can participate in this art. We have always weaved, but we never imagined this, and it is very satisfying because we have been discovered and made visible. What I want from this occasion is for this to be a way out for those of us, who live in these places and have many needs, some basic like water and food. We hope these changes will bring access for our children to a better level of education, to be able to nourish themselves with good nutrition, good medication. Today we have many needs and the women believe we can get help through what we do.  We do not intend for it to solve all our problems, but rather for it to be a motivation that will open other opportunities in the future. This is what I have to say, a wish: seeing that our children, our grandchildren, are going to have more and more knowledge and are also going to weave as they learn from their elders. We continue working to show people, and our children, the practice of weaving as indigenous women. When I start weaving, I remember that I am Indigenous, I remember who I am. We named our group “Silät”, because for us that means “announcement”. We want everyone to know that we live here, that the Wichí still exist”.

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