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Indigenous Electronic Art by Thea Pitman

by Ethan Tussey

During 2018 I have been fortunate enough to be one of the curators of a project run by the NGO Thydêwá (http://www.thydewa.org) to co-create electronic art in a variety of different indigenous communities in the North East of Brazil. (For the project website see http://aei.art.br, and for the catalogue in English see http://aei.art.br/aei-catalog.) Ten artists were selected through an open call for participants and they each spent between 5 and 15 days in an indigenous community, giving workshops on aspects of their artistic practice and encouraging participation in the creation of a piece of community electronic art. The artworks have since been exhibited at the Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM) in Salvador da Bahia, and a slimmed-down and more easily transportable exhibition is now touring the indigenous communities that participated in the project. They will have a UK première at the University of Leeds on 6 December 2018 and we hope to be able to contribute reflection on the experience on this platform after the event.

Works produced under the aegis of the project included photo-montage and video-performance, as well as digital body painting (‘This Earth that Is Us’) and various interactive installations combining traditional materials and new technologies. The latter include ‘Pulsation’ (a reed/LED ‘cocoon’ that lights up to the rhythm of the visitor’s heartbeat); ‘The Voice of the Sea’ (an electro-acoustic fishing net); ‘The Voice of the Pankararu Earth’ (a ‘talking pot’ that records and replays audience interactions with it, or simply replays pre-recorded materials from the community) and the ‘Hãhãhãe Wishing Tree' (a movement sensitive tree made out of waste materials).

As well as being a curator, I have simultaneously been conducting research on the evolution of the project. In particular, I have been examining the responses of both indigenous community members and participating artists to the co-creative process, as well as exploring indigenous community members’ reactions to the experience of publicly exhibiting their work, and the different audiences’ responses to it. The purpose of the research is to improve co-creative methodologies and curatorial practices for future projects of this nature.

The slides should give a good idea of the circumstances of creation and exhibition of the works, together with audience interactions.

Indigenous Electronic Art

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A project led by the NGO Thydêwá to co-create electronic art in indigenous communities in the North East of Brazil.

from Slide Show for In Media Res V3 (2018)
Creator: Thea Pitman
Distributor: YouTube
Posted by Ethan Tussey
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