This frame, which was removed from Cartier’s website, features an image of four Yanomami children playing in a lush green field while at the top of the page are links to purchase high-end jewelry. The French luxury jewelry brand said it was working to promote the culture of the Indigenous people and protect the rainforest. But the project that the site described never took place, and Cartier took down the photo when contacted by The Associated Press. (Cartier via AP)
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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Barbara, I respectfully urge you to research more deeply the issues you accuse Cartier of perpetrating. They are false accusations! Please refer to Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain and its support of the Yanomami. In addition, the exhibition in NYC at Hudson Yards on behalf of the Yanomami where Davi Kopenawa was a guest and featured speaker. In addition, please review the work of Survival International and their partnered support of the Yanomami. I question why you have taken such a false position. Research please! Jane Baldwin
Jane, The false position is yours, I’m afraid… You are repeating the shiny veneer of Cartier’s self-serving publicity.
I worked with Survival France in the 1990s and early 2000s. The AP journalist who wrote the article I posted – the blog that you have as the banner above your comment – researched Cartier for many months and interviewed extensively before publishing his article. I didn’t realize until I read Fabiano Maisonnave’s article that using Indigenous images for publicity without informed consent is not only unethical and immoral but, in Brazil, illegal! Lawyers in Brazil are researching this aspect.
Stephen Corry of Survival told me recently that Survival had informed the Yanomami in the past but that’s at odds with what Bruce Albert said to me in a Twitter DM exchange and also at odds with what Dário Kopenawa told the AP journalist.
Please read this concerning Cartier, most of it in their owns words:
Cartier operates more than 200 jewelry, watches and accessories stores in 125 countries.
You wonder what could be the motivation for the Yanomami spokesmen and artists, the anthropologist and consultant for Cartier, Bruce Albert, the NGO Survival and others involved in Cartier Foundation “Yanomami” art projects when you read this timeline of events and comments made by what sounds like the ultimate, absolute “People of Merchandise”, to use Davi Kopenawa’s term:
Alain Dominique Perrin was President of the Cartier gold jewelry, watch and accessories company from 1975 to 1998. The Cartier Foundation was created in 1984 on the initiative of Perrin who said in 1986: “Sponsorship is not just a great communication tool, but much more than that; it is a tool for seducing opinion.”
In 1999, Perrin became vice-president of the Richemont group, a Swiss holding company specializing in the luxury industry (including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Piaget).
In 2004, one year after the exhibition “Yanomami, the spirit of the forest” Hervé Chandès, the director of the Cartier Foundation explained in an interview for parisart, without ambiguity, how closely the Fondation Cartier is supervised by the luxury gold and diamond jewelry, watches and accessories merchant Cartier:
PA: To give us an idea, what are the operating costs required by an establishment like this?
HC: “The Foundation is private, entirely funded by Cartier for its communications. To give a broad estimate, the general budget – operating and programming – varies around five million euros.”
PA: What relationship does the Foundation have with the Cartier company?
HC: “It is a very close, simple and structured relationship. The Foundation has a mission to fulfill for which it has been entrusted and specifications to be respected. The Foundation reports regularly on its activities to the company with which it works hand in hand. We maintain close relations with Cartier.”
In 2016, in an interview with ALUMNI SUP DE LUXE, Alain-Dominique Perrin stated that “Luxury is a real profession!” The interview continues with: “It is on the eighth floor of the Fondation Cartier, which he chairs and created, that the founder of Sup de Luxe and president of EDC Paris Business School, Alain Dominique Perrin, receives us. Because before buying the EDC, from which he graduated, with other alumni in 1995, Alain-Dominique Perrin chaired Cartier and then was vice-president of the second largest luxury group in the world, Richemont. A passion for luxury and beauty that he now more than ever intends to pass on to young people. The Higher Institute of Luxury Marketing was created by Cartier in 1990 to meet the new needs of the sector in terms of commercial development and global presence. ‘Imagine new markets: today Australians are coming to luxury and we see magnificent shopping centers springing up with all the big brands.'”
In 2018, Alain-Dominique Perrin, co-chairman of the Richemont Group’s strategic committee, said in an interview with Entreprendre: “We (Cartier) have opened the door to financing art through luxury. … All the big companies in the world luxury sector have embarked on patronage of contemporary art, be it Louis Vuitton, Pinault, Prada, Hermès or recently the Galeries Lafayette. We have paved the way by being the pioneers. Patronage is comparable to sponsorship … by In return, the Foundation receives praise from the press, media and social networks, which necessarily benefits the company. The company spends and injects money but benefits from it through additional notoriety and positioning – prestige of its brand tinged with a social dimension.”
In 2019, Cartier company CEO Cyrille Vigneron was interviewed in Fashion Network. The article states that “Cartier is part of the Swiss luxury group Richemont, which also controls Van Cleef & Arpels, Montblanc, IWC, Piaget, Alfred Dunhill, Chloé, James Purdey, Azzedine Alaïa, Shanghai Tang or even Yoox Net-A-Porter. Richemont, which is owned by the wealthy South African Rupert family, does not detail the revenues of each of its brands, but Cartier’s turnover is estimated at more than 7 billion euros.” ‘Net-A- Porter is a very powerful platform, with a solid customer base. And in terms of visibility and attraction for Cartier, it’s been very good. We see that the penetration of the e-commerce channel goes beyond questions of price and that expensive items are more and more accepted on the Internet”, rejoices Cyrille Vigneron, who points out that the most expensive item sold within the framework of this collaboration was a panther watch paved with diamonds sold for 140,000 euros at a UK customer.”
In 2021, the Cartier Foundation presented the exhibition “The Yanomami Struggle” at the Triennale Milano. “The Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art and the Triennale Milano have joined forces for a period of 8 years. This unprecedented collaboration represents a new model of cultural partnership in Europe between public and private institutions.” This time, not only the general manager of the Fondation Cartier, Hervé Chandès, spoke at the opening, but also Cyrille Vigneron, the CEO of the Cartier company.
Minister Franceschini remarked that: “Europe is an important producer and consumer of cultural content.”
Yes, culture is a commodity and art is a selling point.
Personally, I agree with the comments made by Yanomami interviewed for Maisonnave’s article:
J.Hekurari Yanomami: “How can a gold jewelry company, which we, the Yanomami people, are against, use the image of the Yanomami?” “When someone buys gold in a jewelry store, he is financing more invasions to destroy Indigenous lands,” he said. “It is not just a matter of extracting gold. It is a matter of reaping lives.”
And I absolutely agree with Dário Kopenawa’s comment for the article: “Anyone who buys a gold ring is part of the crime.”
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