Artist's Statement - Francisco Letelier

La Pincoya
Goddess of Marine Species
he island of Chiloe in the Southern part of Chile along the Pacific coast has a unique culture and folklore which is quite different from that of the mainland. In this region, the South American continent breaks up into countless islands, and other unique geographical features where there is an abundance of aquatic life. Even in the modern era, many locations remain virtually inaccessible. Because of this distancing cultural customs and practices have persevered. The geography of the region has also allowed the abundant kinds of marine mammals and other species to find places where they can continue to thrive in spite of enroachment on habitats by humankind

La Pincoya is a goddess, which personifies the fertility of marine species. The abundance or scarcity of shellfish near the beaches or of the fish in canals and streams depends on her. She dwells with her husband El Pincoy, frequenting isolated locations of the coast and the rocky and mysterious seashore.

She presents herself to a lucky few wearing a marvelous suit of Sargasso. She reputedly wears a belt of seaweed, which shines like gold in the light of the moon. She is a beautiful woman, so attractive that even fish and other sea life are mesmerized and entranced by her. Her abundant hair covers her back entirely with reflections of the moon like a shower of lighting bugs or a cascade of gold dust.

When la Pincoya and her husband come out of the ocean to the beach, they run along the sand radiantly happy. Suddenly, El Pincoy might sit upon a rock and begin a strange song. His melodious and whispering voice beckons la Pincoya who follows the rhythm of the song moving her hips slowly. His voice rises in tonality and the goddess is filled with energy as she lifts her arms to the heavens and moves her hands in search of the stars.

Soon she begins a frenetic and marvelous dance. If she dances looking towards the hills along the coast, the beaches of that place will become barren. There will be no shellfish or fish there. But if she dances looking towards the sea, then finishes by running along the sand sowing shellfish, the abundance of these and of other fish will overflow along the rocky coast and the deep channels between the islands.

- From Diccionario Etimologico Chilote by Nicasio Tangol 1976 - Translation Francisco Letelier 2004

Venice Beachhead Interview with Francisco Letelier.

The Nation: Tom Hayden on Francisco Letelier

Counterpunch: My Case against Pinochet - Francisco Letelier

Human Rights Heros at Whittier College

LA Metro Mural