“The Yanomami shamans who fight the xawara epidemic see the disease’s image appear in the form of strips of scarlet fabric. The xawara epidemic is approaching and its smoke is glowing red! It is making the sky become ghost and is devouring all the human beings in its path! It must be driven away!” – Davi Kopenawa, Yanomami spokesman and shaman, Roraima, Brazil, from his book ” The Falling Sky ” – 2013.
Shamans in the Alto Orinoco region of Amazonas, Venezuela, described oru a wakëxi – the gold smoke – to me in these terms decades before I read Davi’s words. Dreaming in my hammock in the Yanomami shabono, I saw the totemic sculpture I would later create when I returned to Paris. In another dream, I saw my sculpture burning. I planned to burn a sculpture publicly in 2003 but didn’t find a site to burn one until 2005. I’ve burned seven since as Performance: www.barbaranavarro.com
These burning sculptures symbolize the degradation of nature and the annihilation of indigenous cultures that depend on the forest for their survival. In the 1980s, 20 percent of the Yanomami died in only seven years after gold-miners invaded their land, ravaging communities from diseases. Gold miners are now propagating coronavirus among Yanomami communities in Brazil and Venezuela.
A 48 second-long film: Totemic Sculptures: “Yanomami shamans struggle against xawara smoke of epidemics” – installation with sounds of Yanomami shaman chanting is available on Youtube here:
I’ve organized a COP climate-related climate art show every year since 2015, but as the COP 26 has been cancelled for 2020 and will take place in 2021 instead, the “Pas de Cartier” exhibition will now be prolonged through November 1st to coincide with Cartier‘s “The Yanomami Struggle” exhibition now taking place at the Triennale di Milano until February 7th and continue through the rest of the year until the COP 26 in November.
How does Cartier reconcile their gold extraction business model that destroys trees and degrades indigenous lives with their art exhibitions “We the Trees” and “The Yanomami Struggle” ?
Articles published during the Fondation Cartier‘s exhibition “The Yanomami Struggle” (January 30 to September 13, 2020) ignore the fact that the Cartier Foundation “supports” a people, the Yanomami, who are victim of an activity, dirty gold extraction, which precisely enriches the Cartier luxury jewelry company!
The same can be asked of the Cartier Foundation’s precedent exhibition “We the Trees” (July 12 through 10 November 2019). Which trees, exactly, were they referring to when it’s so obviously necessary to uproot the trees and poison the rivers and soil in order to extract gold for Cartier watches, jewelry and accessories? Tens of thousands of rainforest trees must be uprooted, hundreds of tons of soil mined and mixed with dozens of tons of toxic environmental pollutants that contaminate indigenous lands for that one special gold ring…
Online, during the closure due to COVID-19, the Cartier Foundation advertised: “These times give us the opportunity to explore subjects we find relevant, such as the environment or the defense of indigenous peoples, and to bring them into focus again …or soon, as a tribute to trees, those great protagonists of the living world.” And “During this confinement period, Raymond Depardon and Claudine Nougaret share with us their latest film, ‘My Tree’. Produced for the exhibition ‘We the Trees’ (2019), this film gives a voice to the men and women who are surrounded by them, cherish them, observe them, defend them, care for them, admire them, and who are also a little tired of living with them.“
The Yanomami are not at all tired of living with trees and have petitioned the Brazilian government to force tens of thousands of gold miners who are destroying the forests and poisoning the rivers out of the Yanomami indigenous territory. Brazil’s Vice President, General Mourao, claimed that he would help but now states that removing “3,500” illegal gold miners from Yanomami lands, as he promised, is a “herculean task” but in reality, 25 thousand gold miners are ravaging Yanomami territory & propagating coronavirus.
A Yanomami spokesman, Davi Kopenawa, evoked the dangers of “Cannibal Gold” in his book “The Falling Sky” which was published in 2013, when gold miners brought measles and other diseases to indigenous peoples but before COVID-19 began decimating Yanomami communities: ‘The things that whites so eagerly extract from the depths of the earth, ores and oil … are evil and dangerous things, impregnated with coughs and fevers … They already have more than enough goods. Despite this, they continue to dig the soil relentlessly, like giant armadillos. They do not think that, in doing so, they will be as contaminated as we are. They are mistaken. It is not for nothing that whites today want to excavate the floor of our forest. The whites spread their epidemic smokes all over the forest for nothing, without realizing anything, just pulling the gold and other minerals from the land. …They only care about cooking metal and oil to manufacture their goods. …Xawara epidemic thrives where whites manufacture their objects and store them. But whites’ ears don’t hear the words of the spirits! They only pay attention to their own speech and never realize that it is the same epidemic smoke that poisons and devours their own children. Their great men continue to send their sons-in-law and their children to pluck the evil things that spread the diseases from which we all suffer from the darkness of the earth. Thus, the breath of smoke from the burned ores spreads everywhere. What white people call ‘the whole world’ is corrupted by the factories that produce all their goods, their machines and their engines. … Even the trees get sick. Becoming ghosts, they lose their leaves, they dry out and break on their own. Fish also die from the same cause, in the dirty water of rivers. With the smoke from ores, oil, bombs and atomic things, whites will make the earth and the sky sick.”
The online ad for the Cartier Foundation continues: “To lift our mood in these times of confinement, Bernie Krause wishes to share with the Cartier Fondation’s audience a unique 60-minute sound immersion into the Amazon. Echoing ‘The Yanomami Struggle’ he brings us at the heart of the forest, in a natural habitat similar to Yanomami territories, in which a very close attention to natural sounds, animal vocalisations in particular, is an essential component of the Yanomami way of life. As with many of Bernie Krause’s recordings, this soundscape and its bio-phony recorded in 1990 can no longer be heard today, for this natural habitat has since then been heavily compromised by intense logging and mining.“
Cartier jewelry, watches and accessories are not for sale at the Cartier Foundation, but the Foundation was created with funds from the sale of luxury jewelry items and is underwritten by the Cartier company to the tune of around five million euros yearly according to the Cartier Foundation’s General Director Hervé Chandès. In an interview by Caroline Lebrun https://www.paris-art.com/herve-chandes-fondation-cartier/ Chandès states that “The Cartier Foundation is private, entirely funded by Cartier for its communications.” I was under the impression that the Cartier Foundation was a sort of museum, but communications for Cartier? Doesn’t that sound more like publicity than art? Would that infer that art is just a vehicle to sell more luxury products by giving them an aura of culture? So, according to the Cartier Foundation, are the Yanomami and Trees: ART ? – THEATER ? – FOLKLORE ?…or the very definition of GREENWASHING ? !
As much as 75% of the gold extracted each year is used for jewelry, watches and other vain and futile status symbols sold by Cartier and other corporations in the luxury industry worldwide. Studies have shown that gold mining asphyxiates the biosphere, preventing trees and plants from growing back in areas that were excavated for mining pits. Recovery rates for trees in the Amazon rainforest are very low and the disturbingly high levels of mercury due to gold mining are destroying the forest beyond any hope of recovery.
During the COVID-19 confinement in France, the Cartier Foundation stated: “During confinement, the Cartier Foundation’s garden was able to take a rest and flourish out of sight. New measures are being put in place to preserve all of its beauty and its fragile ecosystem.” The same consideration was not given to the Amazon rainforest’s fragile ecosystem during the pandemic, however. Gold mining in the Amazon rainforest has attained “epidemic” proportions especially in indigenous territories. An increase in the price of gold has ignited a gold rush, with hundreds of thousands of illegal miners pouring into indigenous territories in the hope of striking it rich.
Meanwhile, as of September 21st, there are 902 confirmed cases of the virus and 16 suspected cases as well as 8 confirmed and 10 suspected Yanomami deaths from COVID-19. Yanomami leaders are blaming gold miners and the gold industry for the propagation of the virus and expressing their fears of genocide.
The illustrated “Young Audience GUIDE” for the Cartier Foundation’s “We the Trees” exhibition is available online and describes in detail the 24 types of healthy trees in the Cartier Foundation’s garden created in 1994 by artist Lothar Baumgarten, the “Theatrum Botanicum” (‘Theatre of Plants’). “With 200 wild and natural plant species, mostly indigenous, positioned around the majestic cedar of Lebanon planted by Chateaubriand in 1823.”
The “Young Audience GUIDE” continues with the following information for children and their parents: “DEFORESTATION In many cultures, the forest is considered a whole person, a spirit, a deity. She is celebrated and thanked for everything she offers (air, food, habitat, medicine, etc.). Today, its balance is threatened: some people seem to have forgotten that our survival depends on the well-being of trees. Understanding that we are all members of the same community, that of the ‘living’, should invite us to reflect on our actions and act more responsibly.“
The Cartier Foundation asks another vital question: “TREE, MY BEAUTIFUL TREE Trees are our ancestors and have always been a source of fascination and inspiration for all human societies, whether in the field of science, the arts or letters. But what is it that amazes us so much about them? Besides the beauty of their foliage and their impressive dimensions, trees also seem to pose metaphysical questions : what is our place in relation to these giants of the living world?“
My response would be that after reflecting on our actions and deciding to act more responsibly the result would obviously be refusing to buy or wear gold items in order to protect the Yanomami and the trees.
How about you? What would your response be?
And the “Young Audience GUIDE” continues: “Do you know the Amazon? It is a huge forest in South America and the Yanomami have been one of the people who inhabit it, probably for almost 5,000 years! They believe in the spirit of the forest which gives them everything they need to live. They only change the minimum in nature so as not to harm it and preserve it as best as possible.”
Yes, the best way to not harm and instead preserve nature is to forego buying and wearing gold jewelry, watches and accessories!
As a speaker at the inauguration of “The Yanomami Struggle” said: “This is the ultimate episode of the conquest of the Americas. The accumulation of gold permitted Europe to develop. We must mobilize to avoid the disappearance of indigenous peoples.” – and the disappearance of the forests essential to life!
Ecocide and Ethnocide are crimes!
NO to Cartier !
“Pas de Cartier” !
EXHIBITION “Pas de Cartier !” – Yanomami and Trees – Gold Mining and Gold Luxury items / COVID-19 propagated by Gold Miners
September 3 2020 through November 12 2021
Sculpture, photo, painting – Barbara Crane Navarro
Screen print – Amazoner Arawak
Painting – Sérgio Bello, Constance Mallinson
Assemblage – Catherine-Claire Greiner, Angle & Dawn
Model – Jean José Cadilhac
Drawing – Yanomami artists
Film projection – Barbara Crane Navarro, Ramiro Magalhães
Sound – César Antonio Estay Herrera
Bridge Gallery, Nemours, 77140, France
To schedule a visit at the Bridge Gallery, please contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
More details concerning Cartier …in their own words… can be found here: