Karina Aguilera Skvirsky

As a woman of Ecuadorean and Jewish-American ancestry, I was raised traveling back and forth from the US and Ecuador. My grandmother lived with us; she spoke no English. My father never learned Spanish. These experiences have led me to focus on personal narratives in my art practice as an entry point to navigate broader questions of place, identity and nationhood.

I tell stories through images, static and moving, often using performance to ground them. My influences represent a broad swath of interests that include abstraction, politics, humor, feminism and history. My multiple ethnicities have propelled me to explore narratives of the African diaspora; the complexities of indigeneity; and the legacies of colonialism. By calling into question how we understand history and the elusive nature of truth, my work examines the subjectivity of both. But it’s not that simple; I believe in truth, even while the post-truth world in which social media sites provide a platform for misinformation has led to factual relativity. While I cannot counter the plethora of misinformation circulating the internet, I can reveal my own processes and draw attention to the labor that is often invisible from those in peripheral communities.

Recent works include The Perilous Journey of Maria Rosa Palacios and The Railroad Workers, where I bring attention to Palacios, a domestic laborer, and the Railroad workers (of the Ecuadorian railroad) whose station in life made it impossible for them to be remembered in the history books. In How to Build a Wall and Other Ruins I interview engineers, archaeologists and historians of the Pre-Columbian world about their theories of how Inkans built Ingapirca, an archeological site in Ecuador that uses the same building techniques the Inkans used to construct Machu Picchu. The interviews are juxtaposed with a video-performance in which a brigade of Ecuadorian women from the Sisi community activate the experts’ divergent theories by building a replica of Ingapirca using recycled materials.