The understanding of “The Americas” – especially South America – was dominated by a eurocentric perspective for centuries. This outside view depended on the fragmented knowledge explorers brought home, no matter how long or deep their insight had been or how their intention and agendas were motivated. 

The Terra Ignota project takes the 500th anniversary of the naming of the Magellan Strait as occasion to propose an update of that outdated understanding. The first voyage around the world by Fernando de Magallanes marks the earliest recorded meeting between European explorers and the native inhabitants of the most Southern area of the planet. The ideas of meeting and encounter sparked the Terra Ignota project, initiated in 2015 by and for a dynamic group of Chilean and international artists, scientists, curators and producers as a recurrent nomadic lab in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. 

Terra Ignota is informed by archeology, (colonial) history, (indigenous) practices, nature and climate of the region and is aiming to connect that to urgent global questions. It is rhizomatic, it moves slowly, listens, zooms in and out, and connects.

In a modular way – through small-scale and interconnected encounters and thematic clusters – it facilitates artistic alliances and interdisciplinary learning that is strongly rooted in the local. Terra Ignota aims to develop and grow organically from the local context while it is conscious of its outside perspective and embraces a non-extractivist attitude. Endorsing omitted native and historical knowledge, Terra Ignota aims to stimulate and contribute to new entangled narratives and artistic production. The dialogue and encounters it facilitates, will feed into the wider practice of the participating artists, curators and scientists. 

Terra Ignota’s periodic encounters continuously (re)shape the direction and outcomes of the project, which will manifest itself in manifold collaborative manifestations such as artistic and scientific publications and presentations, and performances, interventions and installations in the context of international exhibitions.

The project evolves in the current backdrop of massive local and global developments.

Chile, and many other places, are in crisis, in a historical moment in which the prevailing economic system and the laws that support it have been exhausted. The idea of development linked to unlimited material progress has nullified our core values and has amalgamated our society in a purely utilitarian pragmatic mindset. Development has replaced the ideas of equality and respect for maximization and extraction.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is just reflecting and amplifying in a drastic way that we are in a historical moment in which economic and social models are becoming increasingly obsolete, and the poor understanding of our relationship with the environment has led us to a general state of fear and instability. 

Terra Ignota will have to adapt to these new realities. It is even more important now that new sociocultural-, resource utilization and distribution paradigms are being explored, and that cultural and educational platforms are developed that are inclusive, decentralized and not extractive. Approached in careful steps and small research groups, with slow pace but in-depth, in order to search for the right dialogue with a place. A search that starts from the Southern tip of Chile but that relates to the planet, acknowledging that these are global issues and that a re-listening is necessary that involves all and everyone.