Featured facts about Lemi Ponifasio: Love to Death (Amor a la muerte)

March 27, 2023
A person wearing all black faces forward with their arms out to the side and right foot off the floor. In the background, there is a red and blue figure, a white rectangle, and a skull.

“A Work That’s a Prayer.” Explore Lemi Ponifasio: Love to Death (Amor a la muerte) and learn fascinating facts about work that transcends convention. Performances on Fri, Mar 31-Sun, Apr 2, 8:00 pm at the Walker Art Center.

Lemi Ponifasio

Defying Convention

Samoan choreographer, dancer, director, designer, and artist from New Zealand, Lemi Ponifasio founded MAU—a Moananui word meaning “to be resilient, the essence and spirit of place”—in Auckland, New Zealand, where he collaborates with passionate advocates and community leaders from all around the world.

Hands holding a banner in a demonstration

A demonstrator holds a banner picturing the late Mapuche community member Camilo Catrillanca on the first anniversary of his killing, in Santiago, Chile. Photograph: Orlando Barría/EPA

“A Light Of Hope”

This work was inspired by the events that occurred after the murder of Camilo Catrillanca, a Mapuche student activist and farmer. His death caused widespread public outrage in Chile, forcing the murderer to face further investigation and eventual prison time. Other human rights activists welcomed this sentence as a step forward for Mapuche rights. 

Young women in traditional dress

Who are the Mapuche?

The Mapuche people are the largest ethnic group in Chile and comprise approximately 10 percent, more than one million people, of the Chilean population. The word “Mapuche” means “people of the land.”

Elisa Avendaño Curaqueo

Photo by Romina Romero-Hermoso

A Voice For Advocacy

Love to Death (Amor a la muerte) features a vocal element performed by ül singer Elisa Avendaño Curaqueo. After leading several activism groups, Curaqueo continues to inspire others with Mapuche song and music. She received the "Santos Chávez" National Award for the Artistic Career of Indigenous Women in 2008, and Chile’s National Music Award in 2022 for her continued recognition of Mapuche traditions.

Natalia García-Huidobro in Flamenco pose

Huidobro’s Dance with Flamenco

Natalia García-Huidobro first dipped her toes in flamenco dancing after moving to Spain in 1998. She returned to Chile in 2000, and has since become the choreographer and artistic director for La Típica Flamenco, a contemporary flamenco dance company.

A black and white image depicts a person laying on the floor with their arms overhead. A tree's roots cover the person's body and the tree appears to be coming out of the person's torso.

Lemi Ponifasio, Love to Death (Amor a la muerte). Courtesy the artist.

“A Work That’s a Prayer”

For an in-depth look into the creation of Love to Death (Amor a la muerte), check out this interview in Walker with Lemi Ponifasio, A Prayer Form of Performance: Lemi Ponifasio on Love to Death (Amor a la muerte).

Decades of Artistic Practice

“For over 30 years, the artist Lemi Ponifasio has brought his personal, invigorating work around the globe, from New York to London to Avignon to the Venice Biennale to Vienna, always with a sense of community and care at the heart of his artistic practice.” Read the Columbus Underground theater preview.