Quipu: Knots of Resistance

Research, Print Design, Un-learning

In the summer of 2023, I attended a class titled Alternative Typographic Histories at the School for Poetic Computation. Under the guidance of Levi Hammett and Hind al Saad, we speculated on typographic evolution and imagined artifacts to materialize our explorations on underrepresented scripts and challenged our idea of what typography could be. This zine was a collection of the class’ collective research on their individual topics.

My research centered on Quipu, an ancient indigenous writing system that used knots and ropes to document information in the Inca’s growing empire. I reference contemporary artist Cecilia Vicuña, who employs quipu to recount narratives of pain, migration, and personal genealogies. I’m interested in the potential quipu has as a tool in continuing a legacy of indigenous resistance, in subverting culturally dominant Latin-based type by giving new life to a script lost to colonization—"For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." Within the context of Latin America’s wrought history and rich culture, what place do alternative ways of writing have in acknowledging a violent past? How can we subvert the established hierarchy inherent in our present-day written language to include indigenous wisdom? How can we tie together our individual genealogies to imagine a collective future?