Joint Gameby Dagmara Wyskiel
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Annual average rainfall in Quillagua depending on the source, oscillates between 0.0 and 0.2 millimeters. The oasis is the driest point, in the driest desert, on Earth. NASA scientists carry out tests in this area on machines that are intended for space travel. Microorganisms are lost here – before organic matter starts to die – it dries out. Everything turns to dust. Little clouds that sporadically appear on the skyline do not provide shade and the ever-present sun helps to understand why, in all religions of the Andean Plateau, it has been regarded as God.
Currently, during harvest between December and March, as a result of misuse by mining companies, the Loa riverbed dries out. Drinking water is brought to Quillagua by a cistern from the village of Maria Elena which is two hours away. At night the oasis, in which 120 people still live, is lit by stars and flashlights.
In the search for a way of survival, drawing the public’s attention to the dramatic situation of the oasis and putting pressure on the local political scene, in 2007 thirteen families formally registered an ethnic community of Aymara tribe Indians from Quillagua. Currently they are trying to find their roots; find the roots of their faith in Inti and Pachamama8 again; resurrect the forgotten rituals; give meaning to words and signs; save their almost completely forgotten language – in the belief that the resurrection of the Indian identity will work as a shield or an amulet in their fight for survival.
Joint Game introduces an enigmatic, but at the same time visually synthetic element into the absolute emptiness of the landscape. The historical-social context associated with the minimalist nature of the desert became the starting point in the creative process and a deciding factor in the selecting the place for the project. The open space of Atacama may only be compared with endless snow or endless water. This area’s history is endless. Endless emptiness also belongs to this area. NOTHING. A vast, terrifying nothing. Every physical presence is materially limited; it ends somewhere. Only absence is endless. Only emptiness, such as silence, can be uninterrupted and absolute.