Category Archives: Culture

Exhibition: ‘Looking to the Future: Children of the Amazon and Mexamerica’ in Paris all this month

12705184_10207690382110457_6462740429685922510_nThis month in Paris, some of my photos from Brazil will be exhibited at the Maison des Associations in the 11th Arrondissement as part of a show called “Looking to the Future: Children of Amazonia and Mexamerica” (“Regard sur l’Avenir; enfants de l’amazonie et Méxamérique”). The Facebook event is here. The exhibit will be up through the month of March. On March 22, the documentary Voix d’Amazonie (Amazon Voices — trailer here) will be shown. If you’re in Paris, check it out!

Here’s a blurry pic of the last show in Paris, in December, which I neglected to mention on this blog. Since I happened to be in town reporting on the Tribunal for the Rights of Nature I was able to stop by. The two photos at bottom left are mine:

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Flyer for the last show:

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PHOTO/ Mismatch: why are human rights NGOs in emerging powers not emerging? (openDemocracy)

Anti-Belo Monte graffiti in Altamira, Brazil. Karen Hoffmann/Demotix.

My photo of anti-Belo Monte graffiti in Altamira, Brazil, was used in this openDemocracy story by Lucia Nader, who is Executive Director of Conectas Human Rights, a Brazil-based NGO with national and international projects. (“Belo Monstro” and “Eletromorte” are plays on words: The consortium building the mega-dam is called Eletronorte, and “morte” means “death” in Portuguese.)

From Lucia’s piece: “There is a perverse see-saw effect in place within the BRICS countries. In Brazil, as the government grows in prominence and companies become more global and voracious, human rights NGOs face a sustainability crisis and find their budgets shrinking. Are these two developments connected?” More >

Sombrero Man returns to Pittsburgh for one more day

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No one knows for sure what happened to Pittsburgh icon Sombrero Man, but his portrait, at least, will be at the Modern Formations gallery through tomorrow.

Paulette Poullet’s painting is based on a picture I took back in the day. She’s informed me that it has sold, which is exciting! Yinz check it aht n’at:

Artist Paulette Poullet and photographer Kurt Garrison explore some of the mysteries of Pittsburgh and beyond in a shared exhibit October 4-26 at ModernFormations Gallery in Garfield. Opening reception during the Unblurred gallery crawl on Oct. 4th from 7-10pm.

In her portion of the exhibit, Poullet, an Ignatz-nominated cartoonist and Garfield resident, will showcase paintings that highlight the theme ‘Our Disappearing City.’ “It’s a tribute to the things that attracted me to Pittsburgh that are vanishing every day,” says Poullet, who came to Pittsburgh from Puerto Rico in the 1990s and has made the city her home ever since.

Garrison’s portion of the exhibit is titled ‘Things Are Looking Up.’ The photos he’ll have on exhibit come from his travels both near and far and include an eclectic assortment of subjects such as London living, the Reykjavík skyline, Dublin waterways, Welsh castles-turned-bomb shelters, the redefining of art installations and ceilings in Parisian art galleries, as well as a few choice shots of the Civic Arena to keep the locals happy.

Admission to the exhibit is free and open to the public. The exhibit runs through October during gallery hours – 7-9 p.m. Thursdays, 1-4 p.m. on Saturdays, and by appointment. The exhibit’s closing ceremony will be on Saturday, October 26. For more information about the exhibit, call ModernFormations at 412-362-0274.

Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/205447316300001/

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Standing Up for Indigenous Rights in Brazil (The Platform)

 

A Kamaiurá cacique in the village of Ipavu on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Xingu Indigenous Territory in Mato Grosso, Brazil.

25th anniversary of Constitution sees massive mobilisation across country and around the world

Night is falling in Brazil’s Xingu Indigenous Territory. In the centre of a thatch-roof hut stands Raoni Metuktire, cacique (chief) of the Kayapó people. All day long, on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the territory, other indigenous leaders have been speaking on everything from the need for better education to the dangers of the Belo Monte mega-dam being built in the Amazon.

The third largest dam in the world, Belo Monte will flood 500 square km and dry up 100 km of river. The particular section of the river most affected is home to communities of the Kayapó, Juruna and Arara tribes, among others, and a total of 20,000 people will be displaced. Belo Monte, one of dozens of giant dam projects planned for the Amazon region, typifies the Brazilian government’s preference for development over conservation.

Raoni begins a war dance and a low chant that builds to a crescendo. He speaks forcefully, in the Kayapó language.

His nephew Megaron Txucarramãe, himself a highly esteemed Kayapó leader, translates: “I want you to feel strong, you are great! I want to see you fighting!”

The wooden disk in Raoni’s lip punctuates his exhortation. The gathered tribes, from the Arara to the Xavante, painted in ink made from the genipapo fruit, loudly cheer their assent.

Chief Raoni Village 2 - River

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A famous picture of Raoni has lately made the rounds on the internet. In it he sits, head in his hands, overcome by emotion. The photo is usually captioned something like: “Chief Raoni cries for his forest.”

The photo points to an essential truth – Brazil’s tropical forest is being destroyed at an accelerating rate, and Raoni is a legendary and outspoken defender of indigenous rights. But the picture is not what it seems. According to the Daily Kos, the actual explanation for Raoni’s display of emotion is that he has just been reunited with a member of his family.

The danger of facile Facebook memes like this one is that they distort reality. In this case, the picture could be considered to rob Raoni of his agency. It harkens back to the “crying Indian” ads of the 1970s in the U.S. (The actor in which, incidentally, was an Italian-American in makeup and a wig, and which may have contributed to more pollutionthan it prevented.) Such images depict natives as passive victims, taking it lying – in Raoni’s case, sitting – down, while the bad white guys take their land and pollute their water.

The story is, of course, based on five centuries of truth. And in countries with any surviving indigenous populations, it goes on today. According to the NGO Survival International, a proposed Brazilian constitutional amendment would give Congress the power to participate in the demarcation of indigenous lands. A bill currently under discussion would open up indigenous land for army bases, mining, dams and other industrial projects, and another would open up indigenous reserves to large-scale mining for the first time. More at The Platform > 

Must-watch: “Open Pit”

Screened this for the first time yesterday and it generated a lot of discussion, so I thought I’d share. It’s powerful and very well done. Highly recommended. Plus, the whole thing is available to watch free online:

Open Pit from River of Life on Vimeo.

Accolade Award winning Feature Documentary “Open Pit” is a tour de force of investigative journalism and guerilla filmmaking that reveals the vicious face of “dirty gold” in Peru. A film by Gianni Converso. Produced by Daniel Santana and Gianni Converso.

In the heart of Cajamarca, Newmont Mining Corporation operates the Yanacocha Gold Mine, one of the largest Open Pit mining operations in the world.

Using the cyanide leach process, Newmont Mining has come to define “dirty gold” for a generation of Campecinos – the indigenous people who have lived at the top of the Peruvian Andes since the Inca civilization.

Faced with devastating mercury pollution, heavy metals and acid mine drainage, the people of Cajamarca fight a desperate battle to defend their water resources, their families – and their way of life.

Backed by money from the International Finance Corporation and The World Bank, Newmont Mining enforces their business model through corruption, intimidation and violence.

Open Pit is a tour de force of investigative journalism and guerilla filmmaking that reveals the vicious face of “dirty gold” in Peru.

Hunter-gatherers mark historic land rights milestone

Hunter-gatherers mark historic land rights milestone
[Photo (c) Martin Schoeller/National Geographic, 2009]
Via Survival International:

One of the world’s few remaining hunter-gatherer tribes, the Hadza, is celebrating the anniversary of a historic land victory.

In October 2011, the Tanzanian government took the unprecedented step of recognizing the importance of land to the Hadza, by formally handing over land titles to a community of 700 people. The decision was the first time Tanzania had ever recognized a minority tribe’s land rights.

1,300 Hadza live in northwest Tanzania, on the shores of Lake Eyasi. Whilst the majority now live in settlements, and supplement their diets with wild foods, approximately 300-400 Hadza survive almost entirely off the natural produce around them.

Survival International’s picture gallery details the Hadza’s hunting habits.

It explores how the tribe’s search for honey relies on a bird guiding them to bees’ nests in ancient baobab trees, and how their bowstrings are made from animal ligaments, and the arrows fletched with guineafowl feathers.

One Hadza man said, ‘We have no record of famine in our oral history. The reason is that we depend on natural products from the environment such as berries, tubers, baobab fruits, honey and many wild animals for food. By living in this way, the environment we depend on is not damaged and remains healthy.’

Having lived in the Great Rift Valley for millennia, the Hadza have an enduring connection to the land.

But over the last 50 years, the tribe has lost 90% of its land, along with the wildlife and plants it relies on for its livelihood.

One Hadza man said, ‘Because we do not plant crops or herd livestock, most people including government leaders, consider our lands to be empty and unused.’

In 2009, National Geographic published a feature story on the Hadza, which was notable to me for this very un-NatGeo passage:

The days I spent with the Hadza altered my perception of the world. They instilled in me something I call the “Hadza effect”—they made me feel calmer, more attuned to the moment, more self-sufficient, a little braver, and in less of a constant rush. I don’t care if this sounds maudlin: My time with the Hadza made me happier. It made me wish there was some way to prolong the reign of the hunter-gatherers, though I know it’s almost certainly too late.

The entire article, by Michael Finkel, is very much worth reading. (Though who knows how much of it is true.)

‘The Trouble with Girls All-Female Art Revue’ THIS SATURDAY, APRIL 28!

Placida at loom

Plácida at her loom, weaving a manta — a cloth for carrying babies and other fun uses. This was in Patacancha, Peru, a village near the town of Ollantaytambo. The women there have a weaving cooperative to sell their crafts in collaboration with an NGO called Awamaki.
Pre-Easter parade, Cusco

Dancer, pre-Easter parade, Cuzco.
A linda, Olinda

A linda (the pretty girl), Olinda. When I went to set up at the gallery today, another artist asked, “That hat, is that a surgery thing?” No — it’s a hairnet. This girl was working at her grandmother’s tapioca stand in Olinda, Brazil, and mugging for the camera.

Framed prints of these photos will be available for sale at The Trouble with Girls All-Female Art Revue this Saturday, April 28, from 7pm to midnight at The Bubble, 810 NE 4th Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304. I’m going out of town and won’t be there, but if you’re in South Florida, come out for what looks to be an amazing show! Besides the awesome ladies showcasing their art, you’ve got:

  • Live music by Haochi Waves and Dooms De Pop!
  • Fun Burlesque acts by Aurora Natrix and Sofia Luna
  • Yumminess by Ms Cheezious Food Truck
  • Good-mood tunes by DJ Cobra
  • Hydration provided by PBR & Redbull

… With all that, how can you go wrong? Come out Saturday! 7 to midnight!