Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC): Students traveled to experience the religious festival of the Virgin of Ayquina

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Nine UC students and four professors are currently visiting the Antofagasta region for an artistic residency on the festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe de Ayquina. This project, organized by Pastoral UC, seeks an approach to the faith experience of the people, among other objectives.

After two years in which it could not be held in person, the festival of the ” Virgen de Guadalupe de Ayquina ” is held again and takes its place as the most important religious celebration in the Antofagasta region. It takes place in the town of Ayquina , located about 80 kilometers northeast of Calama. It takes place in September, with the 8th as a prominent day, as it is the Virgin’s birthday.

In order to get to know this festival, a delegation from the Directorate of Pastoral Care and Christian Culture and the Faculty of Arts traveled to that town to carry out an artistic residency.

Catalina Vassiliu, coordinator of extension and culture of the Pastoral UC, explains that the objective of this artistic residence is to generate an instance of reflection, research and interdisciplinary creation from the participant observation of a religious festival, promoting the aesthetic awareness of the participants and a approach to the faith experience of the people .

“During these days, students manage to observe, record, establish interpretive readings of the religious festival and its languages . Subsequently, once the stay in the field is over, there is a period in which an artistic creation is developed that is presented in a final exhibition, an instance open to the UC Community and the general public”, says Catalina.

The religious festival of Ayquina is held in veneration of the Virgin of Guadalupe. On these dates thousands of faithful, pilgrims and dancers congregate to the Virgin .

“Once the stay in the field is over, there is a period in which an artistic creation is developed that is presented in a final exhibition, an instance open to the UC Community and the general public” – says Catalina Vassiliu, coordinator of extension and culture of the Pastoral UC.

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The delegation is made up of nine students: two from the Institute of Music, two from the School of Art, two from the School of Theater, one from the Institute of Aesthetics, one from the College of Social Sciences and one from the School of Architecture. In addition, four professors participate: José Vielva (Art), Gala Fernández (Theater), José Manuel Izquierdo (Music) and Federico Aguirre (Theology). On behalf of the Pastoral they are accompanied by Catalina Vassiliu and the Chaplain of Campus Oriente, Father Javier Concha. Image: Kindness Pastoral UC.
Expand the vision of what surrounds us
The Artistic Residency project is carried out jointly between the Pastoral UC and the Faculty of Arts. It is also sponsored by the Research Directorate and the Arts and Culture Directorate (VRI). It has been performed numerous times in the traditional Festival of La Tirana, and this is the first time that it will be performed in the festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe de Ayquina.

The delegation is made up of nine students : two from the Institute of Music, two from the School of Art, two from the School of Theater, one from the Institute of Aesthetics, one from the College of Social Sciences and one from the School of Architecture. In addition, there are four professors : José Vielva (Art), Gala Fernández (Theater), José Manuel Izquierdo (Music) and Federico Aguirre (Theology). On behalf of the Pastoral they are accompanied by Catalina Vassiliu and the Chaplain of Campus Oriente, Father Javier Concha.

The artist-in-residence experience offers students an opportunity to get to know the field, encompassing areas that go beyond their own career. José Manuel Izquierdo, an academic from the Institute of Music , explains: “The arts always generate the possibility of seeing things from another place, of learning from each other, of going beyond what is expected. I believe that, precisely, these residences allow that in two ways: on the one hand, to go beyond what is obvious for those who study with us, to be able to expand their vision of what surrounds them; but also, from the arts, look at new ways in which we can understand these religious experiences that are so important to all of us. In an increasingly secular world, this encounter with the transcendent is fundamental”.

In addition, the academic emphasizes that music is very important in religious manifestations, because when listening to music, the person becomes part of a community, where the same thing is heard, intertwined by the same waves, the same vibrations, the same sensations. .

“Music, in a religious festival or a temple, allows us to connect together, empathize, make us part of a mystical and transcendent experience that belongs to everyone, and not just individual. Today, when we listen more and more only with headphones, isolated from the real world, remembering that music has made us a community, since time immemorial, is very important, an essential religious dimension of the human being”, highlights Professor Izquierdo.

“The researcher is actively involved (…) This particularity has determined that the experiences of previous residencies have been of great learning for the group but, in addition, that they constitute unforgettable experiences, which often inspire new paths of research and creation in its members” – Gala Fernández, academic of the Theater School.

Work in collaboration and generating links
Professor Federico Aguirre, from the Faculty of Theology , has participated in the artistic residences of the Pastoral since 2016. “This experience has marked my academic development, both in teaching and in research, and has also marked my believing experience. I believe that the residence contributes in three fundamental areas for academic work: first, it is a very productive instance, in which there is collaborative work between teachers and students; secondly, a link is established with specific communities, which results in an enrichment of academic work; finally, the Residence becomes an ideal way to access an experience of performative faith (as is the religious festival), to get to know it, but also to access the mystery of God that is present in our history and in our territory”

Professor Gala Fernández, from the Theater School , has also participated in previous artistic residencies. She emphasizes that this mode of research is very special because the researcher is actively involved : “It is a recording/creation process permeated to a great extent by the authorship of this participating researcher, which is transformed by the Lived experience. Said particularity, she has determined that the experiences of previous residences have been of great learning for the group but, in addition, that they constitute unforgettable experiences, which often inspire new paths of research and creation in their members”, indicates the academic.

In addition, the teacher emphasizes that the Ayquina festival is very special, since it is the community that is in charge, raises and leads all the milestones of this celebration . “This means that the continuation of the inheritance is a very important factor in the characteristics of each rite that is developed. For example, in a Eucharist, liturgical codes, Andean music, offering tables, and many other manifestations of the ancestral memory of this highland territory can be present at the same time, “explains the professor.

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