« The gold prospectors soiled the forest. It has been permeated with epidemic fumes, and we were caught in a death frenzy. »

Yanomami boy with his father’s monkey tail headband, Alto Orinoco, Amazonas, Venezuela

« In any case, our elders only had to inhale this unknown smoke to die of it very quickly … This is how we came to know the power of the white people’s xawara epidemics… More than enough of us have already died of the xawara epidemics the white people propagated in the past. 

We saw the white people spread their epidemic and kill us with their guns. We saw them destroy the forest and the rivers. We know that they can be greedy and evil and that their thought is often full of darkness.

But we also know that all the white people’s words could only disappear from our mind if they stopped invading and destroying our land. Then everything would be quiet like it used to be and we would live alone in the forest again. Our minds would become as untroubled as our ancestors’ in the beginning of time. But this will probably never happen! » – Yanomami spokesman and shaman Davi Kopenawa




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 « The gold prospectors soiled the forest. It has been permeated with epidemic fumes, and we were caught in a death frenzy. »

  1. Pingback: « The gold prospectors soiled the forest. It has been permeated with epidemic fumes, and we were caught in a death frenzy. » — Barbara Crane Navarro – Tiny Life

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