Merchandise Love – The Value the white people give the Gold they covet so much

photo: Yanomami: shamanic transformation – Barbara Crane Navarro

As the Yanomami spokesman Davi Kopenawa says: “Today there are not many great shamans left in our forest. The gold smoke of epidemics nearly completely emptied it.Our fathers and our grandfathers did not trust the white people and had always feared their epidemic fumes. They did not know that they had come to mark the edges of Brazil in the middle of our land. They never imagined that later these people’s children and grandchildren would come back in large numbers to dig gold from the rivers. 

They never thought that these outsiders would one day chase them from their homes to take their land! Then the xawara epidemics arrive in their footsteps and we immediately start dying one after another! We are the few inhabitants of the forest who survived your fathers’ and grandfathers’ epidemic fumes. This is why I want to speak to you. Do not be deaf to my words! Stop your people from ravaging our land and making us die too!

You don’t understand why we want to protect our forest? Ask me, I will answer you!  Our ancestors were created with it in the beginning of time. Since then, our people have eaten its game and its fruit. We want our children to grow up here laughing. In the past, many of our people perished from your epidemics. Today I refuse to let their children and grandchildren die from the gold smoke!  Chase the gold miners out of our home! They are harmful beings whose thought is dark. They are metal eaters covered in deadly xawara epidemic smoke.

The white people tell that a Portuguese man said that he discovered Brazil long ago. These outsiders’ ancestors did not discover this land! They arrived in it as visitors. But they relentlessly devastated it and cut it up into pieces, then shared them out amongst themselves. They claimed it was empty in order to take control of it. This same lie continues to this day. Our ancestors and those of all the inhabitants of the forest already lived here long before the white people arrived.

Before the epidemic fumes decimated them, our people were numerous here. In those distant times, the factories and the metal machines did not exist. There were no motors, no airplanes, and no cars. There was no oil and no gas. Men, the forest, and the sky were not sick from these things yet.

For me, only the forest is a precious good.”

About Barbara Crane Navarro - Rainforest Art Project

I'm a French artist living near Paris. From 1968 to 1973 I studied at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, then at the San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco, California, for my BFA. My work for many decades has been informed and inspired by time spent with indigenous communities. Various study trips devoted to the exploration of techniques and natural pigments took me originally to the Dogon of Mali, West Africa, and subsequently to Yanomami communities in Venezuela and Brazil. Over many years, during the winters, I studied the techniques of traditional Bogolan painting. Hand woven fabric is dyed with boiled bark from the Wolo tree or crushed leaves from other trees, then painted with mud from the Niger river which oxidizes in contact with the dye. Through the Dogon and the Yanomami, my interest in the multiplicity of techniques and supports for aesthetic expression influenced my artistic practice. The voyages to the Amazon Rainforest have informed several series of paintings created while living among the Yanomami. The support used is roughly woven canvas prepared with acrylic medium then textured with a mixture of sand from the river bank and lava. This supple canvas is then rolled and transported on expeditions into the forest. They are then painted using a mixture of acrylic colors and Achiote and Genipap, the vegetal pigments used by the Yanomami for their ritual body paintings and on practical and shamanic implements. My concern for the ongoing devastation of the Amazon Rainforest has inspired my films and installation projects. Since 2005, I've created a perfomance and film project - Fire Sculpture - to bring urgent attention to Rainforest issues. To protest against the continuing destruction, I've publicly set fire to my totemic sculptures. These burning sculptures symbolize the degradation of nature and the annihilation of indigenous cultures that depend on the forest for their survival.
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2 Responses to Merchandise Love – The Value the white people give the Gold they covet so much

  1. Pingback: Merchandise Love – The Value the white people give the Gold they covet so much — Barbara Crane Navarro – Tiny Life

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