Karen Michelsen Castañón
Karen Michelsen Castañón (b. 1969) is a visual artist, filmmaker and educator. She lives and works in Berlin as of 2002. Her work focuses on the ways (colonial) histories are written. Her films, installations and photos are also informed by the language of textiles, in particular textiles from the Peruvian Andes. She has studied Textile Arts in Vancouver, as well as Fine Arts in Montreal and Hamburg. She is currently a member of COMPA Berlin and colectivo quellcay.
Embrace, 2001, video essay, miniDV, 10 min., stills; © (Karen Michelsen Castañon) VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2017
Karen Michelsen Castañón incorporates the Khipu (ancient Andean mnemonic devices made of colored, knotted strings) as the central metaphor of this video, in order to talk about memory, migration, and colonial identities, particularly the construction of personal and collective history through the colonial reading of genealogies. Individual and collective histories are inextricably tied together, like a multi-layered fabric. The video essay dwells on the recurring Western tendency to locate textiles within a feminized domestic space. That this is a simplified, fabricated vision of history is one of the research strands I weave into my video. The histories of textiles are as diverse as the gender roles — not just female — they represent. (artist statement)