Sergio Zevallos: A Wandering Body


The 1980s in Peru were profoundly marked by the brutal armed fight between the Maoist movement “Shining Path” and the state. One consequence of this guerrilla war was massive terror directed against the rural population throughout the country, but particularly against the Andean and indigenous communities of the south highlands. The Chaclacayo group was formed in 1982 in response to these acts of extreme violence and the accompanying sexual, homophobic and racist discrimination. At that time, the German artist Helmut J. Psotta was a professor at the Art School of the Catholic University of Lima; Zevallos and Avellaneda were among his students.

As soon as they began working together, the group decided to turn their backs on Lima’s art scene, moving in to a house in the Chaclacayo district in 1982. The aim was to work in the greatest possible freedom, free from the repression that was prevalent in the city.

During these years they created an unusual experimental oeuvre replete with iconoclastic, blasphemous, ritual, sexual and transvestic gestures and acts that comprised drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures made of rubbish, installations sprawling over floors and walls, performances and processions. The group’s first and only exhibition in Peru was held at the Lima Art Museum (MALI) in 1984. It was supported by the local Goethe Institute.

Faced with social rejection and economic limitations, the group finally decided to leave Peru in 1989, emigrating with all of their works and materials to Germany, where they continued to work as a collective until 1994.

Between 1989 and 1990 they presented the show Images of Death. Peru or the End of the European Dream at various German institutions – at the ifa gallery in Stuttgart, Badischer Kunstverein in Karlsruhe, Museum Bochum, and Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. The group also featured with a number of performances at festivals, in museums and theatres, including the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin and Festspielhaus Hellerau in Dresden until 1994.

In these performances the group set out to demonstrate the tangled links between colonialism, the economic consequences of the Second World War, the dictatorships and armed conflicts in Latin America, racism and sexual violence, and the demise of communism in Europe.

After disbanding in 1995, all of the group’s works were placed into storage in various German towns. Parts of the oeuvre only returned to Lima thanks to the many years of research conducted by Miguel A. López, Emilio Tarazona and others and the exhibition A Wandering Body. Sergio Zevallos in the Chaclacayo Group at Lima Art Museum in 2013.

Today Sergio Zevallos lives in Lima and Berlin, Raúl Avellaneda in North-Rhine-Westphalia. Helmut J. Psotta died in 2012.

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