Amazonia explores some of the key themes of the 21st century through the work of 11 Latin American and European artists. The exhibition is based on the premise that environmental issues require analysis in cultural as well as scientific terms, as a contemporary result of such research needs both: the interaction between ecological knowledge and its cultural inflection. It also contemplates the native culture and habitats that are being decimated by COVID-19 and by Amazonian invaders seeking riches such as lumber or gold. This decimation has shattered a large part of the region’s original culture, rooted in the land itself and in the transmission of knowledge from generation to generation.
The conceptual and theoretical framework of this project is derived from Greg Garrard’s book Ecocriticism, a critical survey of divergent “positions” within contemporary thinking about the natural environment. Garrard examines various key tropes governing ecocritical practice, such as wilderness, animals, indigenous rainforest inhabitants and, finally, the Earth and its future, all crucial themes within the broad field of cultural studies.
In this show, the Amazon, a 5.5 million-square-kilometre area, is seen through the eyes of relatively unknown artists in Spain whose work is centred on some of the nine countries across which this vast rainforest spreads. This exhibition is also a new milestone, bringing together six women artists from different generations in a group show about the Amazon for the first time. The photographs of Claudia Andujar, Barbara Brändli and Thea Segall, European artists who have settled in Latin America, present aspects such as the ethnographic record and rural culture of different tribes and zones of the Amazon rainforest. Lothar Baumgarten used both photography and video to illustrate his experiences with indigenous communities far from the Western world. François Bucher narrows that distance by trying to reconnect with the jungle wisdom of traditional shamans, while Nela Ochoa’s work explores the inner body on the molecular level with genetic markers that erase time and space, rewritten with ceremonial crowns. The pieces by Susana Mejía and Margaret Mee offer testimonies of artistic quests as pretexts for underscoring the importance of preserving the Amazon, a form of protest against its systematic destruction also presented by Jonier Marín in his altered photographs and collages and by Sergio Vega in his ethereal projection of the rainforest in flames. In addition, the show features the work of Sheroanawë Hakihiiwë, who was born in the Amazon and lives in a Yanomami community, in which he reveals the imagery of his people and an artistic sensibility far removed from the Western values to which we are accustomed.
Artists: Claudia Andújar · Lothar Baumgarten · Barbara Brändli · François Bucher · Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe · Jonier Marín · Margaret Mee · Susana Mejía · Nela Ochoa · Thea Segall Rubin · Sergio Vega
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