Curator Giuliana Borea tells us about her work that creates a platform for the ideas and activism of indigenous Amazonian artists, including Rember Yahuarcani, Brus Rubio and Harry Pinedo/Inin Metsa currently on show at Art Exchange. Working closely together, the artists and curator extend the possibilities of self-determination and self-representation of indigenous people by debunking myths and challenging stereotypes.
Joining us from their studios, artists Rember Yahuarcani, Brus Rubio and Harry Pinedo have created short films about their work that will be screened by Giuliana tonight, offering unique insights into the artists’ practice.
Biographies of Speakers
Dr Giuliana Borea
Giuliana Borea is a post-doctoral Marie Curie Fellow at the Department of Sociology, University of Essex and a Lecturer in Anthropology at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. Her current research project Amazonart is an interdisciplinary and intersectorial project that develops a new approach to understanding the work, trajectories and activism of indigenous Amazonian contemporary artists as they enter global art circuits, seeking to produce new curatorial narratives. It does this through a collaborative methodology with Amazonian artists responding to their aim of self-representation.
Borea has built her career at the intersection of research, teaching, curatorship and cultural policy. She has been Peru’s Director of Museums and Cultural Heritage, Coordinator of the Chavin National Museum and the Lima Museum of Contemporary Art, and co-founder of Tandem: Cultural Management for Development Association which fostered cultural policies from below. She is currently an Executive Council Member of the Latin American Studies Association´s Visual Culture Section.
She has also been recipient of the ILAS Fellowship, the Wenner Gren Foundation Fellowship, the NYU Thinker Fieldwork Grant, the Carolina Foundation Fellowship, among others. Her curatorial practice includes the recent exhibitions Ite!Neno! Here!: Responses to Covid-19. Santiago Yahuarcani and Harry Pinedo/Inin Metsa (Lima, 2020), curated with Rember Yahuarcani. She has published extensively on contemporary art worlds and transnational networks, politics and practices of museum, place-making and sensory practices, with a focus on Peru and Latin America, including Configuring the New Lima Art Scene: An Anthropological Analysis of Latin American Contemporary Art (Routledge, 2021).
Rember Yahuarcani (b. Loreto, Peru, 1986)
Lives and works in Lima and Pebas.
Rember Yahuarcani is a visual artist, writer and activist. He belongs to the Uitoto Áimen people, and lives between Pebas – his hometown situated in Peru’s northern Amazon – and Lima, where he migrated in 2003. His artistic practice explores the Uitoto mythology and Amazonian worlds, working alongside his activist practice which urges the respect of indigenous worlds.
Yahuarcani’s paintings investigate the complexity of the Amazonian philosophy by addressing the Uitoto’s comprehension of humanity-nature. They interrogate Western notions of representation and the perspective of space and map-making, thereby challenging the abstraction and one-world dimension of maps, which are utilised to foster extractivist exploitation of Amazonian land, and in doing so, destroy indigenous places and worlds.
Yahuarcani’s work has been exhibited internationally, including in Peru, Brazil, Argentina, US, UK and China. It has entered collections at the Lima San Marcos Art Museum and the Shangyuan Museum of Modern Art. He has won the II Intercontinental Biennale of Indigenous Art and participated in the 8th Beijing Biennial (2019).Yahuarcani has published extensively, including Buinaima’s Dream (2010), The Summer and the Rain, (2017) and has been a recipient of Peru’s National Award for Children’s Literature. He is also recipient of the ‘Art and Activism against repression during the Covid-19 crisis’ grant of the University of York and has co-curated with Giuliana Borea, the exhibition Ite!/Neno!/Here!: Responses to Covid-19 at Crisis Gallery in Lima, Peru.
Brus Rubio (b. Loreto, Peru, 1983)
Lives and works in Lima and Paucarquillo.
Brus Rubio is a visual artist and the director of Invisible Amazonia art gallery in Lima. He belongs to the Bora and Uitoto peoples from Loreto in Peru’s northern Amazon, and lives and works in Paucarquillo and Lima, where he migrated in 2009. His work addresses the important issues of the day, including creating an intercultural world, dismantling power relations and the politics of memory with a focus on the rubber exploitation in indigenous lands and the massacre of indigenous people.
Rubio has coined the concept ‘Amazonizar’ (‘to Amazonize’), which the artist defines as: to make his culture prevail without another one consuming it, while at the same time recognise the creativity of others generating a new form of intercultural identity. His aim is to amazonize cities, institutions and people. In doing so, Rubio makes recurrent use of self-representation assuming an active role for the dissemination of Amazonian knowledge and the creation of arenas of intercultural encounter, and therefore, illuminating discussion on cosmopolitanism and world-making.
Rubio’s work is exhibited extensively, including exhibitions in Peru, Brazil, Colombia, US, Switzerland, France, Spain, UK and China. His paintings have entered the permanent collection of the Museo de Arte de Lima and he has participated in Art Lima Fair and at Madrid Contemporary Art Fair ARCO 2019. Rubio’s residencies include Mana Residencies in Miami (2018) and Matadero Art residencies in Madrid (2019), and he has been recipient of the Artist Passport competition supported by the French Embassy in Peru (2011).
Harry Pinedo/Inin Metsa (b. Ucayali, Peru, 1988)
Lives and works in Lima.
Harry Pinedo is a visual artist and a primary intercultural teacher. He belongs to the Shipibo people from Ucayali in Peru’s central Amazon, migrating to Lima in 1995 where he lives in the Shipibo urban community of Cantagallo. His work focuses on issues surrounding internal migration and the making of an urban indigenous community as he raises pressing questions of citizenship and housing rights, while also exploring ontologicaland ecological issues.
Using bright acrylic colours on canvas, Pinedo’s work encapsulate a wide range of ideas, tensions and dreams of interculturality and just. For him colour is what the Shipibo people – and other indigenous nations – offer to racist white mestizo Lima. His work also highlights the way indigenous places are constructed through the strong relationships amongst both native and urban communities – not only in terms of culture and one-way migration to the cities, but also of the constant mobility of people and their battles over their citizenship rights. The complexity of his work is further revealed through his paintings, where places are also connected by rivers, mountains and animals, showing a key role of other beings as agents of integration and place-making.
Pinedo’s work started to circulate in Peru’s contemporary art circuit since 2010 and has recently been shown internationally in Brazil, France and Spain. He is a recipient of the “Art and Activism against repression during the Covid-19 crisis” grant of the University of York, and his work has recently been featured in the exhibition Ite!/Neno!/Here!: Responses to Covid-19 at the Gallery Crisis in Lima.