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Caliche Crystals #1

by Michelle-Marie Letelier

Born in Rancagua, Chile, 1977. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany.


Inspired by juxtaposed historical contexts, Michelle-Marie Letelier’s drawings, installations, videos and sculptures encompass orchestrated transformations of minerals alongside extensive research into the landscapes where their exploitation and speculation take place.

Letelier spent her early life in Chuquicamata, the world’s largest open-pit copper mine located in the middle of the Atacama Desert in Chile. This mining town—highly adapted to the extreme arid conditions—was built in 1911 by North-American capitalists to accommodate their workers. When, due to environmental contamination and rising fuel costs, the town was to be buried, Letelier returned to document this process—a pivotal moment that ushered in her practice. The resettlement of the former inhabitants, the alteration of the landscape and the perceptions of the daily rhythm were some of the subjects on which the artist worked, creating a series of videos, photographs and installations that have been shown in Chile and in screenings abroad.


Since then, Letelier has been exploring commodity compounds, their properties and energy productions, enabling situations in which minerals are carefully combined and led by physical methods into significant states or applied directly into her drawings. 


The work of Michelle-Marie Letelier carries heavy socio-political overtones; it is eloquently reflective especially in times of unveiled globalization, the increasing scarcity of raw materials and the crisis of the neoliberal model.

Michelle-Marie Letelier (b. 1977 Rancagua, Chile) lives and works in Berlin. 

Recent solo exhibitions include Unpredictable Atlas at Tête, Berlin and Caliche Winds at El Museo de Los Sures, New York.

Selected group exhibitions include: Magic Block at Stiftelsen 3,14, Bergen, Norway and Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Santiago (2014); Puro Chile: Paisaje y Territorio, Palacio La Moneda Cultural Center, Santiago (2014); To Seize Matter and Leave a Landscape at West Germany, Berlin (2012); X Video and Media Arts Biennial at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Santiago (2012) and In/Out China, East Asia Contemprary Art Space, Shanghai (2008).

Her videos have been exhibited in several screenings and festivals across the world, among them: World One Minute Festival, Beijing and Lisbon; Citypulse, Santiago; ALBIAC, Valencia and Next Festival, Vilnius. 

Her work was shown as part of the Mercosur Biennial in 2005. She was selected to participate in the Goldrausch Programme (Berlin) in 2010. In 2012 she was awarded a first edition of ORA International Art Prize in Italy.

During 2014, Letelier participated in a residency at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York.