— 06.02.2022

Exhibition Syndemic. Voluspa Jarpa.

Voluspa Jarpa’s Syndemic is the winner of the inaugural edition of the ‘Julius Baer Art Prize for Latin American Female Artists’, a new biennial award initiated by Julius Baer and The Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá – MAMBO. It is the first of its kind to be held in Latin America, whose mission is to honor the research of outstanding Latin American female artists.    

The term “syndemic” was introduced in the 1990s in medical anthropology to describe two or more sequential epidemics in a population with biological interactions, which exacerbate the prognosis and burden of disease.

Syndemic is Voluspa Jarpa’s metaphor to analyze the violent social riots that occurred from October 2019 to March 2020 in Chile. For this exhibition, Jarpa invited collaborators—an astrophysicist, a mathematician, a Mapuche poet, a female witness, and a woman fighting in the frontline—to collect and share experiences about this phenomenon of protest, resistance, and rebellion against systematic Human Rights violations: torture, sexual violence, and other injustices.


Syndemic delves into sensitive issues related to one of the most intense social outbreaks of Chilean history, culminating with a new national Constitution that replaced the one written in the 1980s under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). The process was marked by violence and severe police abuses, as has occurred during the recent demonstrations of the Colombian national strike.

For this reason, the artist decided to extend her research to the Colombian context, comparing how governments manage social unrest and human rights violations, which often remain in impunity.

Syndemic is a site-specific multimedia project that involves photos, archival documents, videos, maps, sculptures, objects, installation, wallpapers, and lasers that project beyond the Museum’s physical space into the surrounding environment. 

Voluspa Jarpa’s artistic practice focuses on a detailed analysis of archives and declassified documents that emphasize hidden narratives. Working with the archives’ materiality —either textual or visual—Jarpa draws attention to the mechanisms of consensus connected to the construction of authoritarian regimes concealing brutal subjugation. She investigates notions of memory and trauma, often addressing the Chilean socio-political context and, by extension, Latin American.

Biography of Voluspa Jarpa. Chile, 1971

Voluspa Jarpa. Rancagua, Chile, 1971. Currently lives and works in Santiago de Chile. She has exhibited in museums and art centers of Latin America and Europe as well as in international biennials such as the Havana Biennial (1996), Shanghai Biennale (2003 and 2018), Istanbul Biennale (2011), Mercosur Biennale (2011), Sao Paulo Biennale (2014) and the Venice Biennale (2019) where she represented Chile. Since 1994 she has maintained an extensive artistic production, participating in group and individual exhibitions both in Chile and abroad. 

Among the recognitions she received: the Illy Prize at the Madrid International Art Fair – Arco for her work Minimal Secret (2012), a finalist for the Prix Meurice in Paris (2014), and the Prize for Artistic Creation Universidad Católica de Chile. 

Her work is part of important collections, including the MALBA (Buenos Aires), the Engel Collection (Santiago de Chile), LARA Foundation (Singapore), Kadist Foundation (San Francisco / Paris), Rabobank Collection (Eindhoven), Museum of Visual Arts (Santiago de Chile) and Blanton Museum of Art (Austin, Texas).

Syndemic summons different disciplines, knowledge, and experiences to think about the phenomenon of protest, of the collective, of resistance, violence, and rebellion to analyze: What happened? How do we narrate it? How do we process it? How do we symbolize it? And in this way, be able to say: it is not possible to erase what  happened.   So I think about the exercise of art as an anti-erasure action, in the sense of generating collective and civil knowledge, to own the right to analysis, denouncement and storytelling.” States the artist Voluspa Jarpa.

Credits by Museo MALBA

Eugenio Viola (Naples 1975) is an Italian art critic and curator. He was voted the best Italian curator for 2016 and 2019 by the Italian art magazine Artribune and in 2014, British art magazine ‘Apollo’ named Viola as one “of the most talented and inspirational young people who are driving forward the art world today”. He received his Ph.D. in “Methods and Methodologies of Archaeological and Historical-Artistic Research” at the University of Salerno and specializes in the experiences and theories related to performance and bodily poetics. On this subject Viola most notably edited monographs devoted to Marina Abramović, (Sole 24 Ore Cultura, Milan), Regina Jose Galindo (Skira, Milan, 2014), and ORLAN (Ed. Charta, Milan- New York, 2007) among others, and published several essays for international publications.

Before living in Colombia, Viola was Senior Curator at PICA – The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts in Perth, Western Australia, and from 2009 to 2016, Curator at the Madre Museum in Naples. As a guest curator, he has collaborated with numerous international institutions, such as the Frankfurter Kunstverein, Germany; CoCA- Center of Contemporary Art Torun, Poland; EKKM- The Contemporary Art Museum of Tallinn and Kunsthalle of Tallinn, Estonia; PAC – Pavilion of Contemporary Art, Italy; MSU-The Museum of Contemporary Art, Croatia; MAMC-Musée start moderne et Contemporain de Saint-Étienne, France. In 2015 Viola curated the critically acclaimed Estonian Pavilion at the 56th edition of the Biennale di Venezia. In 2021, Eugenio Viola, Chief Curator of MAMBO, has been appointed as Curator of the Italian Pavilion (2022) for the 59th Esposizione d’Arte, La Biennale di Venezia, which will open on April 23, 2022.