With long green iridescent claws, Perspectives out of nature was the title of my final major research project written whilst studying Critical Writing for Art & Design at the Royal College of Art, graduating class of 2017.
This project was about grasping what lies beyond the human as it has thus far been conceived of through Enlightenment principles of dualism between humans and nonhumans, the former as rational beings, the latter as passive, to be objectified. We are still untying the fatal knots of these dualisms. The writing is situated at the intersection of this very moment at which humans and nonhumans find ourselves, looking around, standing in the midst of a mess.
Comprised of three essays, the project is punctuated by art criticism and interviews with artistic, alternative health and anthropological practitioners.
Supervisor: Dr Nina Power
The mustard yellow poster with bold sans-serif typeface in strawberry red: Decolonizing Brazil, caught my eye. Running through its axis, a neatly laid graphic of tentacular swirling patterns, angular in shape, resembling tightly woven textiles, at one end, were breaking off into disparate pixels. Twelve sessions were listed; keynote Professors were from Turkey and New Zealand, teachers and doctorate students from Brazil speaking on subjects such as: Envisioning Decolonized Futures in Indigenous Literature, Education in Non-European Mathematical Systems, Made in the Reservation: the Human Being through the Indigenous Eye.
This was one of three fictional conferences ‘held’ last year at the Intercultural Indigenous Marçal Tupã-y University at the Jaguapirú Reservation on 25-26 of August. The project, A Possible Reversal of Missed Opportunities, by artist Maria Thereza Alves, was a new work commissioned for the 32nd Sao Paulo Biennial. The conferences were assembled during workshops where indigenous participants gathered to develop topics for hypothetical artworld conferences.
They are hypothetical because, Alves says, “indigenous people are excluded from contemporary Brazilian society.” Euro-Brazilians insist that race is no longer an issue in post colonial, post racial Brazil. But only in the last three years has there been a conference on documentary filmmaking in which mixed-race Brazilians participated, indigenous filmmakers not considered for inclusion.
They are hypothetical because in the municipality of Dourados, where the conferences are ‘held’, “there is one death of an indigenous person every 12 days and 1 suicide of an indigenous person every 7 days.” One of the workshop organizers, Naine Terena, holds a doctorate degree from a prestigious university in São Paulo and is one of the first indigenous people of a dozen to have so far achieved one. She is also an activist and her state has the highest rates of assassinations of indigenous people and highest rates of suicide in Brazil.
The venue the fictional conferences were ‘held’ at, Intercultural Indigenous Marçal Tupãy, also turned out to be a fictional space on the real Jaguapirú Reservation. Upon further investigation it translated to: the Man with the Lips of Honey. Who or what was the Man with the Lips of Honey? With no one around to ask, an online search brought up a stanza from the bible in Proverbs 5:3-43 For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.