Jaider Esbell (1979-2021)
« Letter to the Old World
Genocide Indigenous Brazil
Violence is a long cycle. Ancient orders continue to echo and have now arrived in the world’s last virgin forests.
The order? Exterminate! »
Jaider Esbell said: « As Indigenous people, we have already come from a historic process of the end of the world. »
« Letter to the Old World » is part of a visual narrative denouncing the horrors that Indigenous peoples suffered and are still suffering in Brazil and articulating the necessity for the decolonization of museums and other symbolic institutions and spaces.
« I am rich! And do you know where my wealth comes from? Comes from the indigenous lands of the Amazon rainforest. Yes, that’s where I’m from. In order for me to look beautiful, the Indians must die naked and have nothing! »
In one of his final interviews Jaider Esbell criticized art institutions for not integrating Indigenous art into national and global art history. « There is no dialogue, » he said. « The biennial takes your work and forgets you. »
After Jaider Esbell’s death by suicide, his friend, the renowned Indigenous artist Denilson Baniwa, published in an open letter: « Given that the reception the occidental world gave us led one of us to such a grave end, I need to think more about what type of relationship I want to have with occidental art. »
In this performance Jaider Esbell delivered a letter to a UBS Bank in Geneva, Switzerland, that outlined the rights of all to live on a healthy planet and criticized bank policies that are complicit with deforestation and criminal ecocide.
Jaider Esbell’s Artivism: Artistic resistance against gold mining in Indigenous Lands, the destruction of the forest and the continued attack on Indigenous cultures…
I wondered how Jaider Esbell – who defined himself as an ‘artivist’ and used his creative genius to express a militant critique of the hegemonic culture of colonization and its concept of art as a weapon in the struggle for Indigenous rights to land and cultural recognition – would have reacted to seeing his works being used by the Cartier company – the purveyor of luxury gold and diamond jewelry, watches and accessories – for their manipulative objectives; greenwashing their brand?
I asked this question of an Indigenous artist and activist friend of his in Brazil and he said that Jaider Esbell would have never agreed to this if he had known that the Cartier Foundation is a communications element of the gold and diamond merchandise company Cartier.
Of course, the works of art by Jaider Esbell that Cartier purchased for their collection are among his more poetic; nature and spirits related paintings that do not directly confront the colonialism and capitalism that Cartier represents.
The Venice Bienal also featured Jaider Esbell’s nature and spirit related work through November 27, 2022.
Jaider Esbell had hoped to organize an Indigenous art ecology in parallel to the institutions and galleries that developed from colonialism and capitalism because: « They want to flourish, fantasize and disguise, distort, soften our words. We are in this fight, a fight for life, for our territory. »
And the world of « art » is so adroit at arrogating sociopolitical intentions and exploiting them…
As for Gold and Diamonds: In Thomas More’s “Utopia,” published in 1516, gold and precious stones have no value. Indeed, they carry the weight of blood, slavery and human madness
In the decades-long continuity of greenwashing the gold jewelry, watches and accessories company that created and underwrites them, the Fondation Cartier for Contemporary Art presented yet another “nature” oriented exhibition Les Vivants (Living Worlds) as part of lille3000, Utopia – “Utopia”? – at the Tripostal in Lille, France through October 2, 2022.
They stated: “thus extends a series of exhibitions by the Fondation Cartier questioning the place that Western man has arrogated to himself at the top of an alleged pyramid of the living and peoples.”
According to the Cartier Foundation, the exhibition “proposes to transport our imagination beyond anthropocentrism in order to reinvent, with empathy and humility, a new earthly cohabitation with plants and animals.”
They added that “The heart of the exhibition is a collection of works by contemporary Amerindian artists… Their experience of a relationship of parity between living beings, humans and non-humans, constitutes an immemorial tradition from which we have everything to learn in this time of ecological crisis.”
And that the Cartier Foundation “has been developing a program for more than twenty years that explores the major current ecological issues… which invite us to take a renewed look at the beauty and vulnerability of the living world.”
The curators of this exhibition were Bruce Albert, anthropologist and consultant for Cartier and Hervé Chandès, General Director of the Cartier Foundation.
Ecology and the gold industry? Really? Could it more precisely be seen as the Death of Nature and Indigenous peoples for Gold and Diamond Merchandise?!
« What is utopia for? » Galeano said: « Utopia is there on the horizon. I approach two steps, it moves away two steps. I walk ten paces and the horizon runs ten paces. As far as I walk, I will never reach it. What is utopia for? For this: so that I don’t stop walking. »
The life of Jaider Esbell inspires me to paraphrase Mayakovsky from ‘Decree to the Army of Art’:
« Hurl your words like a bomb! »
And – The DEATH of NATURE and INDIGENOUS PEOPLES for Gold and Diamond Merchandise and The ART of GREENWASHING by the MERCHANTS of GOLD – in their own words… 2023?
You can read about that here:
The DEATH of NATURE and INDIGENOUS PEOPLES for Gold and Diamond Merchandise and The ART of GREENWASHING by the MERCHANTS of GOLD – in their own words… 2023
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