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Contemporary Peruvian Crafts and Design in Dédalo

The handcrafted object satisfies a need no less pressing than thirst or hunger: the need to enjoy ourselves with the things we see and touch, whatever their daily uses are.

Octavio Paz

In Peru, handicrafts arise ancient and diverse sources that go back to the millenary pre-Inca cultures. The architecture of Kuelap, the Nazca or Chancay textiles, the Mochica ceramics, the Chavin sculptures, the jewels of Sipan are but a few examples of the diversity of crafts and of the amazing technical creativity of the ancient inhabitants of our territory. These cultures will later converge, without losing their unique characteristics and specificities, (thanks to the Andean reciprocity) in the great empire of the Incas, the Tawantinsuyo which will spread them throughout Central and South America. During the Spanish Conquest, the imposition of the western way of doing overcame the ancestral taste and techniques, but they reappeared in the form of a sort of underground culture during the Colony, generating a constant flow of creativity in crafts, from the Republican period until now, resulting in the variety of rural expressions and of traditional craftsmanship that we see today.

On the other hand, as in many great cities of the world, in the decade of the nineties, a new craftsmanship crystallized in Lima that since the seventies had been forging a place in the world of art. It is proposed by artists, designers and craftsmen open to experimentation and innovation, who do not disdain sustainability, social ethics and respect for the expressions of marginal cultures. Some have explicit recourse to tradition, but not in order to comply with its canons, but, on the contrary, to appropriate them, include them in their creative process or transform them, leaving them to insinuate themselves as a rationale, a sign of identity, or an expression of a trend. Design ceases to be the heritage of a tribe, an ethnic group or a culture, it simply becomes the personal stamp of the contemporary urban artisan. As in the expansive Peruvian gastronomy, the fusion and the remix are determining factors in the new artisan aesthetic.

In the era of cultural industries, of unlimited reproduction of globalized products for mass consumption, handcrafted objects radiate their aura to those who identify with them because they are the things they want to live with, both aesthetically and functionally. As Dennis Stevens would say, "these objects represent who they are and what they believe in". A saying about people can be applied to things: "tell me what you are about and I'll tell you who you are", because handcrafted objects distinguish and identify their owners by the respect they show to the artists who made them, to the ingenious and creative idea, to the manual work and to the use of original materials and techniques. They know and value that the works that decorate their homes and accompany their lives are unique and unrepeatable, that their presence makes them happy and exalts them.

Eduardo Lores