This paper examines the poems of the contemporary Chilean poet and artist Cecilia Vicuña in her book Instan (2002) in order to show how they model visionary feminist and egalitarian social relationships. I demonstrate that her visual poems, which consist of letters or parts of words that she connects by drawn lines to form short words or phrases in English, Spanish, Latin and Quechua, invite the reader to follow the paths of the lines with his/her eyes and body in a kind of visual and kinetic consciousness and further to create their own connections between letters, words and phrases; their unusual poetic form emphasises a place between narrative, time and space. Poems that allow for such radical readerly involvement can be called, I suggest, plastic, that is, mouldable by the reader.
This poetic space of between-ness both emerges from and transforms Vicuña’s biographical condition as an exile from Chile during Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship and as one alienated from the contemporary capitalist world. Vicuña both biographically and poetically inhabits a ‘non-place’ (a term used both by Marc Augé and Vicuña herself). Rather than seek to dissolve or overcome between-ness, she recreates it in her poems as a dynamic transformative position through constant change, crossing over, that is, translation, from language to language. This essay thus illuminates how Vicuña’s ‘non-place’, formed by translation on the page, is a highly energised and plastic field capable of ‘moulding’ new relationships for the exile and of imagining an egalitarian and feminist society.