Artists and shamans at Watoriki, ''Windy Mountain''
Yanomami, Spirit of the Forest brings international artists into contact with the shamans of Watoriki (Windy Mountain), a Yanomami village in the Brazilian Amazon. The ambition of this exhibition is not to lapse into exoticism or paternalism, but to connect our conception of images and representations with that of another culture, exploring how the traditional yet constantly evolving metaphysical world of the Yanomami echoes the various facets of the ''savage mind'' still at work in our society.
This exchange was organized in collaboration with the shamans of Watoriki and Davi Kopenawa, their spokesman. Consequently, Yanomami, Spirit of the Forest features neither tribal feather ornaments, nor any ''Amerindian'' or ''crossover'' art. Nor is this an ethnological or humanitarian exhibition. Treating Yanomami thought on an equal footing, this exhibition's films, photographs, paintings, sculptures and video installations offer a web of correspondences relating to the major themes of the cosmological ideas
and visionary experience of the eleven shamans of the village of Watoriki.
Yanomami, Spirit of the Forest has been organized by the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain in collaboration with Survival International France and the Brazilian Comissao Pro-Yanomami NGO (CCPY). This exhibition is conceived by Bruce Albert, head of research at the Institut de recherche pour le DÃ©veloppement (IRD, Paris), and HervÃ© ChandÃ¨s, director of the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain.
Born in 1931 in Neuchatel. Lives in Sao Paulo.
Both with her camera and by her activism, the Brazilian photographer Claudia Andujar has played a fundamental role in obtaining recognition of the Yanomami territory from the Brazilian government. She moved to the country in 1956 and began doing documentary work on the KarajÃ¡ Indians. She came into contact with the Yanomami in Amazonia in the early 197os and decided to dedicate her work to them. A founding member of the Brazilian NGO Comissao Pro-Yanomami (CCPY), Claudia Andujar's photographs of the Yanomami (portraits, everyday scenes and shamanic rituals) constitute the largest body of work yet produced on the subject.
In 1975-1976 she witnessed the first large-scale epidemics that hit the Yanomami population during the constructionâ€“subsequently abandonedâ€“of the Perimetral Norte highway. This moved her to give up photography for a while to help with the rio Catrimani health unit. As a result of this period, and of the invasion of Yanomami territory by the gold diggers in the 198os, she produced a moving series of photographs showing the often disastrous consequences of contact with the whites. Using superimposed images, her most recent photographs convey the processes of shamanic thought, which works by progressive absorption and metamorphosis.
Born in 1944 in Rheinsberg. Lives in New York and DÃ¼sseldorf.
Language occupies a central position in the multifaceted work of Lothar Baumgarten, which embraces photographs, films and books. In 1978-1979 he spent eighteen months with the Yanomami in the Upper Orinoco region of Venezuela, completely cut off from the outside world. It was only after having spent eight months with this community at KashorawÃ«theri that he took his first photographs. In 1985 he made two visits to the Yanomami of the Uraricoera River region in Brazil, where he photographed abandoned Yanomami communal house (yano or xapono) and the ravages caused by the coming of the gold diggers. From these sojourns, Baumgarten brought back over 72 hours of sound recordings, 9 hours of 16mm film and many notebooks, recording his dealings with the Indians, as well as several series of black-and-white photographs. One of these, River-Crossing, was made in the space of only a few minutes on the Orinoco, in the KashorawÃ«theri region.
Born in 196o. Lives in Paris.
Over the last twenty years, the artist Vincent Beaurin has been examining the ways in which we read a work of art. Starting from the postulate that language develops out of exchange and use, he is particularly interested in so-called functional objects. In 2002, he conceived the exhibition Fragilisme with Alessandro Mendini and Fabrice Domercq for the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain. His sculptures, watercolors and films are the poetic crystallizations of a singular cosmology. Both his visual works and his texts, in which each word is chosen with a real sense of perfectionism, are the fruit of his visions, of the appearance and transformation of mental images. His Enseignes (Signs) can be ''compared'' to the visions of the Yanomami shamans. Their glitter skins evoke the scintillating, magnificent luminosity of the animal ancestor spirits.
Born in 1942 in Villefranche-sur-Saone. Lives in Paris
For Yanomami, Spirit of the forest, Raymond Depardon has made a color film and a series of black-and-white photographs.
During his stay at Watoriki, he made parallel films of a group of hunters and a group of shamans, marking the close interdependence of the shamanic world and the great mental and practical intimacy that the Yanomami have with the tropical forest. He spent hours out with the hunters and attending the shamans' cure sessions, trying to ''find his own place'' in this other world, between the forest and the spirits. ''They knew that they were being filmed, but that didn't change them at all. I was a visitor. I was passing by. I was welcomed, received and even desired. They thus offered their image to someone who, before that, was not even aware of their existence. I played my role as an intermediary, someone who passes things on.''
Rogerio Duarte do Pateo
Born in Sao Paulo in 1971. Lives in Sao Paulo
A student of anthropology at the University of Sao Paulo and associate researcher on the Nucleo de Historia IndÃgena e do Indigenismo (NHI/USP), Rogerio Duarte do Pateo is engaged in anthropological and audiovisual research on the subject of inter-community conflicts and ceremonial dialogues among the Yanomami Indians of Brazil, with whom he spent thirteen months doing fieldwork. The ceremonial dialogues are sung dialogues which are used as an official way of conveying news between hosts and guests during Yanomami inter-community celebrations (reahu). Rogerio Duarte do Pateo is also working on a study of the photographs of Claudia Andujar. Wayamu is his first film.
Born in 1951 in Santa Monica. Lives in Seattle.
Gary Hill began his artistic career in the early 1970s with a series of metal sculptures. Since first using video, for a performance in 1972, He has gone on to experiment with all the available techniques in this medium, exploring the phenomenon of the creation and perception of the image, of its appearance and disappearance. Combining video images, sound, language and poetry, each new work radically renews his practice. Using video as a mirror of consciousness, Hill forces the viewer to engage physically with the image and its demands. His frequent use of his own body as part of the experiment can be seen to anticipate his experience of Yanomami shamanism. At Watoriki he found that shamanism and its techniques for bodying forth mental images echoed his own visual and philosophical concerns.
Born in 1957 in New York. Lives in New York.
Exploring the distinction between the real and the imaginary, revealing what is going ''behind'' images and means of communication, creating a phantasmagorical world peopled by faces that emerge suddenly from a piece of furniture or on a cloud of smoke, probing the moment when the image appearsâ€”these are some of the issues explored by Tony Oursler. Ever since his first works, at the end of the 1970s, his art has been about creating a mental space out of stories and images. Setting out to put video in (or on) the outside world, he emancipated it from the screen and, as of the early 199os, began projecting filmed images of faces onto the heads of monstrously proportioned effigies. His fascination with certain mental disturbances in which the body is experienced as fragmented, and with the multiple nature of personality, is expressed in the Eyes series, which he began developing in 1996. The video installation that he has made for this show is a monumental extension of this. Using footage of shamanic cure sessions shot by Geraldo Yanomami, but also an extraordinary bestiary drawn by the youth of Watoriki, the artist sets these images against others that reveal his own work on the imitation of mental images.
Born in 195o in Stuttgart. Lives in New York.
A pioneer of multimedia art, in 1991 Wolfgang Staehle founded THE THING, an independent project that became an important forum for discussion and reflection on the new media-based arts. Playing on the idea of compressing time and space, the artist emphasises the relation to the present, notably in images that are projected in real time.
Orienting his investigations towards virtuality, the absence of the physical object, he used video to create images with a pronounced painterly quality.
During his stay with the Yanomami at Watoriki, the artist made a number of video sequences including static-shot panoramic landscapes, filmed over 24 hours, one from the Stone mountain, which the Yanomami think of as the home of shamanic spirits, and the other, a reverse shot, from the communal house/village towards the mountain. Also, his large panorama proposes a kind of digital image that is analogous to the supernatural image of the forest elaborated by the shamans. This ''mentalisation'' of the landscape goes beyond anecdotal illustration to attain a timeless, abstract dimension.
Born in 1960 in Tokyo. Lives in Tokyo.
A graduate of Kuwasawa Design School, Naoki Takizawa joined the Miyake Design Studio when he was 22. He was trained by Issey Miyake and, the following year, was put in charge of the Plantation line. He became an Issey Miyake designer in 1999. In this role he developed a taste for dialogue with visual artists, musicians and choreographers, a curiosity for other disciplines which led him to take an interest in the new Japanese scene and in a number of international artists. In 1995 he designed costumes for the ballet EIDOS; TELOS by William Forsythe. He has collaborated recently with the musician Pierre Bastien, the Silent Poets, the artist Chiho Aoshima, the architects Seijima and Nishizawa, and the ''image makers'' Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton-Jones. Starting from the storytelling of Davi Kopenawa and animal drawings by Joseca Yanomami and the youngsters in Watoriki, Naoki Takizawa has created MirekopÃ«, an installation evoking the choreography of images of the animal ancestors from the time of the origins and the plants of the forestâ€”spirit-images that have ''come down'' to dance on the great mirrors, summoned by the shamans
Born in 1964 in Rio de Janeiro. Lives in Rio de Janeiro.
The works that Adriana Varejao has been making for some ten years now, at the intersection of painting and sculpture, have exceptional visual power. The hybridising, syncretic art of his canvases owes a great deal to memories of Brazil's colonial history, invoking as they do both the miracle of transsubstantiation and cannibalism, as freely interpreted from 17th-century prints. History, culture, geography, the dismembering of bodies and dismantling of referencesâ€”the vocabulary of the early works has become much sparer in the later pieces.
During her sojourn in Watoriki, Adriana Varejao engaged in a dialogue with the Yanomami based around her work on the dislocation of the body and of landscapes. The shamans in the village commented at length on his images in relation to their own cosmological references, notably the symbolic dismembering/inversion of the future shaman's body during his initiation, but also, more generally, with regard to the cannibal theme that informs their theory of supernatural aggression (witchcraft, aggressive shamanism, evil spirits).
Stephen Vitiello Born in 1964 in New York. Lives in New York.
An electronic musician and creator of sounds, Stephen Vitiello constructs works out of the noises that he records in his surroundings. He retranscribes and deterritorialises these in such a way as to transform our sensorial apprehension of the world. He was worked regularly on experimental installations with video artists such as Tony Oursler and Nam June Paik.
Using recordings made during his sojourn at Watoriki, he has worked out a sound piece made up of voices from the forest, a polyphony which is like a call whose multiple registersâ€”stirrings, breathing, quiveringâ€”are interpreted by the Yanomami voice in a kind of counterpoint, in accordance with the codes and mythological narratives and symbols of everyday life.
The title of the acoustic environment that he has created for the exhibition, Hea, refers to this cultural appropriation of forest sounds and to the interpretation of the calls of certain birds and insects, which the Yanomami see as signs or presages (announcing the presence of animals or fruit, the imminent arrival of visitors or enemies, the closeness of a change of season, etc.).
The exhibition also includes Watoriki, a walk in the Yanomami sound environment captured with great depth and precision using binaural microphones.
Born in 1944 in Karsdorf. Lives in Berlin
The filmmaker and photographer Volkmar Ziegler started working with the Yanomami in 1981. Three years later, he made the film Yanomami de la riviÃ¨re de miel (Yanomami of the Honey River). Between December 1986 and August 1987 he spent seven months with the Yanomami of Surucucus and learnt their language. During this time he witnessed the development of the Calha Norte project, a plan for the Brazilian army to occupy the high plateau of Surucucus, near the Venezuelan border. In his film La Maison et la Foret (1994), Ziegler gave the Yanomami a chance to express themselves directly about the intrusion of the western society. This film, the culmination of five years of work, represents the first time the most isolated Yanomami of Brazil were able to express their feelings about the events of their recent history, from the arrival of the missionaries and then the soldiers to the influx of the gold diggers, while at the same time reaffirming the mythological and cosmological foundations of their society.
Given the importance of the way images manifest themselves in Yanomami shamanism, the exhibition catalogue Yanomami, l'esprit de la foret is a highly visual publication. Archive photographs, geographical maps and artworks relate the unique experience of the artists welcomed to Watoriki and the recent history of the Yanomami people. At the heart of this book, hidden correspondences between contemporary art and mythical thought affirm the power of the dreamed, conscious or narrated image. Both an art book and a scientific tool, this catalogue is entirely dedicated to Yanomami thought. The catalogue also includes Davi Kopenawa's Les ancetres animaux (The Animal Ancestors), a tale transcribed from the Yanomami by Bruce Albert. This is the first Yanomami shamanic story ever published in France and has been made possible through the long-term collaboration of Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert.
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